Learn how to get insight in Dutch air traffic control with MDA/TactiPad
In the Netherlands there is a discussion going on for quite some time now about opening up an additional airport Lelystad. One of the aspects is the need to re-arrange the air corridors as part of the complexity of the air traffic control. To get an overview, a tactile map is helpful. How are the airports scattered around the country? Where are the major air corridors and how large are the descent areas relative to the size of the country? In other words, how complex is it with 500.000 take offs and landings for airport Schiphol alone?
Photo: Map of the Netherlands sketched with MDA on TactiPad, showing airport locations, air corridors and descent areas.
Using the tools TactiPad and MDA
By using the TactiPad and the motorised drawing arm (MDA) you are able to add elements in consecutive steps to the tactile map. First the contour of the Netherlands, next the five cities that are appointed as national airport already and the location of the sixth airport, Lelystad. Then some lines indicating the air corridors. Lastly the descent areas surrounding the cities. The information for the map is supplied by www.routetactile.com.
You can watch the video or read the detailed instructions below.
Video: MDA interactive module Maps
Make sure the motorised drawing arm (MDA) has access to the internet via your local network (wired/wireless).
Place a sheet of drawing foil on the TactiPad and place the TactiPad on the MDA in any position.
Make sure your browser enabled device (PC, tablet or phone) has access to the MDA.
Creating a map of the Netherlands
Open the website that is built-in the MDA by typing http://mda/. Go to the page named ‘Interactive’. Select ‘maps’. This module brings you behind the scenes to the www.routetactile.com website.
Check/set your preference for the units of measurements to be sure distances and dimensions will be familiar to you. See below when exploring the map or entering values. The paper size is automatically set to the size of the TactiPad drawing board.
Select ‘country’ as the scope for the map. Select ‘the Netherlands’ from the list of countries. The contour of the country will be presented on the page ‘Tactile map’. You can have the contour sketched by just clicking the button ‘Sketch with MDA’. The file will be transferred to the MDA and the sketch process will start automatically.
Photo: Screenshot contour of the Netherlands
Adding the details: airports first
The option ‘adapt map’ enables you to add elements to the map such as cities (in case of a country also specific provinces). Graphical elements such as crosses, lines and circles can be added for cities which have been added to the map already. By activating this function you are leaving the page showing the tactile map. To see the result of the additions you have to return to the page ‘Tactile map’.
Photo: screenshot ‘adapt map’
Add the cities/airports: Schiphol, Maastricht, Eindhoven, Eelde, Rotterdam and Lelystad. They appear on the map as tiny circles. To distinguish Lelystad from the others, you can mark Lelystad with a cross.
Sketch this additional information by clicking – once more – the button ‘Sketch with MDA’. The new map as a whole will be sketched again. Parts of the existing drawing will be overwritten. It might be better to place a fresh sheet of drawing film on the TactiPad.
On screen the cities are presented as black dots. By hovering the indicators, the name of the city will pop up. For screenreader users the list of cities and other elements are presented in a list which can be shown by clicking the button ‘Show map content’. For each city the position on the actual map is indicated in centimeters/inches, relative to the upper left corner of the map. To proceed to the next step, you have to exit the map content page and return to the tactile map page.
Alternatively the index file for the map can be downloaded and embossed.
Adding the details: aircorridors and descent areas
Adding lines as air traffic corridors. For the purpose of this map, a line from Schiphol to Eelde, a line from Maastricht to Eelde and a line from Schiphol in the direction Arnhem/Dusseldorf (Germany) are required. Please note, lines from location/city A to B can be added only after the cities have been added to the map first. Here you will have to add Arnhem too. Cities outside the country can not be added.
Circles around cities to indicate descent areas. Please note, in this paragraph the kilometre/mile conversion is rounded a bit for reading convenience.
When planes start their descent passengers will notice the deceleration and changes in air pressure quite well. To give the passengers a smooth landing and air traffic control enough time to weave the plane in the stream of all planes that want to land a rule of thumb is followed, the rule of 1 to 3. Each 1000ft in descent will take 3 nautical miles, which is equivalent to 1 km per 55 meter.
The final and most crucial descent stage, from 10000 feet will take a travel distance of 30 nautical miles, which is about 55km/35 miles. Therefor you can create circles with a radius of 55km/35miles around the airports to see what the potential overlap is. Here you see once more the importance for having set your preference for the units of measurement.
After lines and circles have been added, the map can be sketched again.
Foto: final result of the map with elements
By visiting www.routetactile.com with your browser you can obtain the same result. Maps of all sorts can be composed and downloaded in SVG file format. The TactileView software can be used to produce the map on your Braille embosser or swell paper.
However, there are a few differences.
When using TactileView, you need to download the map, open it in the software and print it, whereas with the MDA, you compose the map and press the button ‘Sketch with MDA’. Even more, after production of the map, you can still manually add details to the map by using a regular pen.
To have the right tools and a way to present the information in a fashionable manner can help you to understand complex situations. Let us know if you have any challenge that you would like us to showcase with the Thinkable tools for tactile graphics.