Pitney Bowes
MapInfo Pro™ Monthly Journal

Finding your way with MapInfo RouteFinder: Using Isochrones

MapInfo® RouteFinder is an add-on for MapInfo Pro which creates routes and driving regions. It can be helpful in a variety of site and market analysis applications.

This article will explore techniques for creating driving regions. These are also called isochrones.

Before we begin - set up your network

Before using MapInfo RouteFinder for any task, it is necessary to load the street network that you are going to use. This is done in the RouteFinder > Network sub-menu. It is possible to create your own network or to utilise a network that has been provided to you. Pitney Bowes can supply high quality ready-made networks for MapInfo RouteFinder

What is an isochrone?

In case the concept is new to you, an isochrone is a polygon that represents the distance that can be achieved along a road network, in all directions, in a certain period of time, from a given starting point. An example of an isochrone boundary would be the area enclosed by a ten minute journey in all directions from a store location.

Isochrones may also be referred to as driving regions.

As is often the case, a picture is worth a thousand words.

isochrone
The driving regions in this map represent five, 10 and 15 minute isochrones. Background street data and the road network are StreetPro UK © TomTom BV.

Setting the parameters for your isochrones

The RouteFinder > Options > Drive Distance command provides a number of useful options. The settings in this dialog box pertain to creating isochrones with either the tools on the RouteFinder toolbar or when creating isochrones in batch mode.

isochone options dialog

In the example above, three regions are being created. You can change this to have just one isochrone or to have more. When you are creating multiple regions you have the option to have them overlap or to have "doughnut polygons". With the doughnut polygon option the smaller isochrones are cut out of the larger ones.

The Clip Polygon Isochrones option allows for the isochrones to be trimmed according to another table. An example on how this can be used is to clip results that might stray out over water.

The accuracy setting controls the amount of detail. Think of more detail as the isochrone being more or less "spiky" in appearance. Higher accuracy does take more time to compute.

For more information on these settings, see the Drive Time Options topic in the MapInfo RouteFinder help.

Types of isochrones -

Once again, an isochrone is an estimation of the area that can be reached within the given time period. The Voronoi isochrone is considered to be more accurate. It builds Voronoi polygons around the network nodes that are accessible in the time period. The Polygon isochrone is a simpler calculation. It simply builds a polygon around the outermost extants. A link isochrone is simply the road links that are found within the given time period.
types of isochrones

Creating isochrones

There are two methods for creating the isochrones.

RouteFinder Toolbar

Toolbar commands: All three types of isochrones can be created by simply clicking on the appropriate tool and clicking in the map.

Tip: To create isochrones at multiple locations, hold the Ctrl key while clicking on the map. Hold the Shift key for the last location.

Batch mode

The RouteFinder > Batch Functions > DriveTimes - IsoChrones menu command allows you to specify a table of point locations. An isochrone will be created around all the locations in the table.

More information about MapInfo RouteFinder

As MapInfo RouteFinder is making its first appearance in this journal there may be some questions about the product.

Q: Is MapInfo RouteFinder a replacement for MapInfo Drivetime?
A: Yes. Drivetime will be retired.

Q: If I have Drivetime on maintenance do I get a free upgrade to MapInfo RouteFinder?
A: Yes. Also, customers with old versions of Drivetime (but which are not on maintenance) will have a special upgrade price to obtain MapInfo RouteFinder.

Q: I've heard of RouteFinder before, is this the same product?
A: Yes. Pitney Bowes has entered into an agreement with RouteWare to create our own "MapInfo RouteFinder" version of their product.


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Article by Tom Probert, Editor of "The MapInfo Professional" journal

When not writing articles for "The MapInfo Professional", Tom enjoys talking to MapInfo Professional users at conferences and events. When not working he likes to see movies with car chases, explosions and kung-fu fighting.