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Jack Steel
Jack Steel

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Analysing Student Timetable Data for Smarter Routing

A summary of my 2020 dissertation project, built with C#, Vue.JS, and ASP.NET Core.


This project presents a successful proof of concept design and a successful implementation of the A* pathfinding algorithm incorporating pedestrian congestion. The University of Lincoln’s campus and student timetable data was used to develop this system. It has been shown that considering congestion during the pathfinding process can provide better results for those wishing to navigate the campus more efficiently. Congestion adjusted routes can achieve a time-saving of over 70% for a user navigating the campus on common routes. Analysing the congestion around campus using a heatmap also provides insight into the locations of bottlenecks on pedestrian movement. This project has laid the groundwork for future developments in this area and highlighted several key areas for further work, including further automation of the pathfinding graph generation and investigations into student behaviours to improve the model’s accuracy. Importantly, this project has shown that the improved routing algorithm is capable of being processed within an acceptable timeframe for interactive use. All development was completed with reuse and extension in mind for any further work or adaptation.


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The above screenshot shows an example of the system in action. The route requested is starting at Cygnet Wharf Block A accommodation, the destination is INB0114 – the main lecture theatre in the Isaac Newton Building, and the start time for the route is set to 13:00 (1 pm). Clearly shown in the two route details sections are the distance and estimated durations of these routes. The estimated duration for both takes congestion into account, however only the adjusted route took congestion into account when calculating the shortest path. It can be seen here that even though the adjusted route is over 70 metres longer than the standard route, it is almost 10 minutes faster due to congestion.

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The above screenshot shows the map view with congestion view turned on - this provides a heatmap of the estimated congestion throughout the route. It is clear to see that the congestion along the standard route (shown by the green line) is worst around the entrances to the Arts Bridge. This congestion is likely the main slowdown for this route that causes the adjusted route (shown by the orange line) to be faster. The adjusted route has done an excellent job of avoiding any hotspots of congestion, by routing over the much less used Brayford Way bridge for most of the distance.

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