One of the problems I have recently considered is the problem of rebalancing bicycle stations for bike-sharing schemes all over the world. It is not a secret that the demand for bikes across the city varies (some people, including myself, prefer to go downhill rather than uphill, other ride a bike only during sunny weather etc.). Thus, resulting in a serious disproportion of available bikes among different stations at different times of the day. As a result, bike-sharing companies hire men with a van to pick up bikes from less used locations to locations with high demand.
How would one go about trying to model that? I am fairly familiar with the concept of networks in operations research. However, this seems to be far more complex. Would it be possible to create a list of stations (nodes) from which the driver would have to pick a certain amount of bikes and transport them elsewhere (to other station/ node)?
Suppose that I have data on
duration of the ride,
coordinates of each station. From a more practical point of view - what might be the right place to get data on the distance between nodes? Assuming the straight lines between nodes seems like a quite of simplification, however, this is what I am trying to do, simplify and then solve the easier problem. If, however, this is an oversimplification, where to get real data on the distances? I tried google's static API but it does not work for me even after I signed up and everything.