Tools and Python Libraries

smart_mobility_utilities python package

Many of the operations in this book are long and burdensome to code from scratch. Oftentimes, they are highly standardized and can benefit from having a helper function take care of the various intricacies.

smart_mobility_utilities is a python package developed for this purpose. You can clone the repo to your local machine, and install it as follows:

$ cd smart_mobility_utilities
$ pip install -e .

The conda version of this package is still under development. In the meantime, you can import the files directly into your project’s file structure.

Mapping Libraries


This library was developed by Geoff Boeing from the University of Southern California to ease the process of retrieving and manipulating the data from OpenStreetMap, and to make it easier to be interpolated into Python applications. It offers the ability to download the data (filtered) from OSM and returns the network as networkx graph data structure. The library is too complicated to be explained fully in a README file, but you can check the official website and follow Professor Boeing’s website as he posts regularly on recent updates and trends about osmnx and the field in general.


OSMPythonTools is a well-written package to query OSM services.

Open layers

If you are developing a web/mobile application and you want to get really fancy with your maps, you have Open layers which is the industry standard for webmaps.

Graph Libraries


This is one of the pillars of Python programming and scientific computing, besides numpy and scipy. Its main and only goal is supporting graph data structures and the associated algorithms like shortest path and networks flow and optimization. osmnx returns the map as networkx network so it is possible to use all the library’s functions on the maps obtained from OSM. networkx has books written explaining its API’s and we wholeheartedly recommend Complex Network Analysis in Python: Recognize - Construct - Visualize - Analyze - Interpret if you want to dive into it. Information about networkx is also available here.

networkx has a monopoly over the field of network analysis for many years now, but the scalability of networkx may be an issue. If your network has tens of millions of nodes, it can get really ugly because networkx is still just a python library, and python can’t handle these millions of nodes and will run out of memory, and give you a segmentation fault.

You can optimize python by using __slots__ instead of __dict__, something which is discussed here. You can also use arrays or something similar, but then other problems would arise.

Are there any alternatives? In C++, you can use graph-tool, which was built over the boost-graph libraries, or you can use igraph which is written in C. But for these you will need to write your own parser for OpenStreetMaps data and understand its file format. Fortunately, this is not too complicated.

Geospatial Data Libraries


GeoPandas is an extension to pandas that handles geospatial data by extending the datatypes of pandas, and the ability to query and manipulate spatial data. Alternatively, you would need to deal with spatial databases for these operations, like how to properly and efficiently represent polygons and curved lines and query them without too much overhead (for database folks, the indexing of spatial data is different than normal data).

Shapefile Creation and Map Editing


QGIS is a free and open-source cross-platform desktop geographic information system application that supports viewing, editing, and analysis of geospatial data.


GeoJSON is a fast, simple tool to create, change, and publish maps.

Geospatial Data Visualization

There are many libraries for visualization, but we are mainly using folium and ipyleaflet. Both of them are just wrappers around leaflet.js, which is the go-to library for any kind of map visualization in almost all web and mobile applications.

Both of ipyleaflet and folium were created to serve the same purpose, and you don’t need to dwell so much on how to use them if you don’t want to, as we have provided wrappers around them in utilities/utils/ This contains two functions: one for drawing a map with our graph overlaid on it, and and the other function is for drawing a route between two places/nodes with markers marking the source and destination. At the very least, you should be able to recognize the differences between the two wrappers. folium is much more lightweight than ipyleaflet, but on the other hand ipyleaflet has more options and very niche capabitilies. ipyleaflet doesn’t work on Google Colab, unlike folium; see googlecolab/colabtools#60 for more details.

There are other visualization libraries that you should be aware of:

  • hvplot, if you want to get going through your analysis with geopandas and dataframes and all that. You should be aware of the significance of working with vanilla GeoPandas, and that osmnx supports that and yields two dataframes: one for all your nodes and one for all the edges.

  • mplleaflet, which is another leaflet-based library, but it plays really nicely with matplotlib.



  • Google Data Studio

Geospatial Data Analysis


Shapely is a BSD-licensed Python package for manipulation and analysis of planar geometric objects. It provides us with datatypes to represent geometric objects that geopandas exploits to represent spatial data.


PySAL or Python Spatial Analysis Library is an open source cross-platform library for geospatial data science with an emphasis on geospatial vector data written in Python.


GeoDa is a free and open source software tool that serves as an introduction to spatial data science. It is designed to facilitate new insights from data analysis by exploring and modeling spatial patterns.



GeoPy is a Python client for several popular geocoding web services.


nominatim is used to look up a location from a textual description (the official website description). This is called geocoding and decoding, which is translating address of a location to its coordinates (and vice-versa).

Photon Geocoder

photon is an open source geocoder built for OpenStreetMap data.

Routing Libraries


For some problems, determining the route between multiple points is not the main focus, and it is acceptable to use a pre-generated route. OSRM does exactly that; it is a routing engine with an API that you feed with coordinates, and in return it gives you the fastest route between them. It has other useful capabilities like doing Travelling Salesman and solving all pairs shortest path.


Valhalla’s routing service (a.k.a. turn-by-turn), is an open-source routing service that lets you integrate routing and navigation into a web or mobile application.


The openrouteservice - ORS provides global spatial services by consuming user-generated and collaboratively collected free geographic data directly from OpenStreetMap. It is highly customizable, performant and written in Java.


Geofabrik operates a routing service based on OSRM. OSRM makes use of state-of-the-art routing algorithms and can compute routes across Europe within milliseconds. The engine supports the following features: via points, turn restrictions and turn maneuvers.

traffic per edge and Open traffic

Do you want traffic data beyond just max speed and duration? Check out traffic per edge or Open traffic.


Most of these libraries use coordinates as input and/or output, but please take into account that some of them accept the coordinates as (longtitude, latitude) and others as (latitude, longtitude).



tqdm helps us to see the progress of our algorithm while it is running. We use it in all of the other repositories to track the speed of the algorithm in traversing the given map, and how many nodes are expanded per second. It works on any python iterable structure.