Christmas Special – Find the Best Route for Santa Claus!

One of the most expecting events in December must be Christmas. As we were still a child, we would usually hang a stocking by the fireplace on Christmas Eve and get a present from Santa Claus in the next morning. We all know that Santa Claus can deliver Christmas gifts to every corner of the world in only one night. But you might wonder the delivery route of Santa Claus when we were young.

The possible shortest route for Santa Claus is very similar to a problem called Traveling Salesman Problem. This problem looks for the possible shortest route that visits all given locations and returns to the original location in the end. It is also a famous problem in network analysis, which its solution has been widely applied in many fields. The problem of the shortest route now can be solved by some GIS software. For example, SuperGIS Network Analyst provides the Superior Route for solving Traveling Salesman Problem. Now, let’s see how to solve this delivery problem with SuperGIS Desktop.


To solve this delivery problem, we should first select the visiting cities of Santa Claus and calculate the distance between these cities by pairs. In this article, we have chosen major cities from different continents as the visiting cities of Santa Claus, which included 30 destinations like New York, Mexico, Yaoundé, Paris, Freetown, Lima, Rio, Santiago, Buenos Aires, Cape Town, etc. Then we use a new function in SuperGIS toolkit – xy to line create pairs of path between cities as a polyline feature layer.


Use XY to Line to calculate the distance between these cities by pairs

After finishing the steps above, we should open the Network Analyst and convert the polyline feature layer into network data. And the next step is to select Superior Route as Network Analyst type and import visiting cities as stops. SuperGIS Desktop also provides customized settings on various parameters, such as durations and the time window. We can adjust these settings base on our needs. The Superior Route function in SuperGIS Desktop is calculated by heuristic algorithms, which we can decide the heuristic methods and change the settings in each algorithms. In this article, we will apply the default setting. But if we want to make the analysis more realistic, such as let each child can get their gift in the morning, we can add time window as limit conditions. In that way, we can make sure that Santa Claus will arrive every city before the sun rise. After the settings are all ready, we can press the solve button to get the final result of the superior route.


Apply Network Analyst to find Superior Route of Santa Claus’ gift deliver path

The figure shown below is the result of superior route. Base on our settings, Santa Claus should choose Vancouver as his starting point, and then he should travel from North America to Africa, South America, Western Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Middle East, Eastern Europe and Northern Europe and finally goes back to Vancouver.


Superior Route of Santa Claus’ gift deliver path

By using SuperGIS Network Analyst, we will find the possible shortest route for Santa Claus’ gift delivery. SuperGIS Network Analyst provides 7 network analysis models including Shortest Path, Superior Route, Vehicle Routing Problem, Service Area, Closest Facilities, Location Analysis and Location Allocation. SuperGIS Network Analyst can assist users to solve different network problems. At the end of this Christmas Special, Supergeo wishes you have a wonderful Christmas and see you in 2016!

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