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Unlock the Full Potential of Analytics with Insights for ArcGIS

Insights for ArcGIS brings fast, powerful data discovery to everyone. By blending business intelligence capabilities with the best in location analytics, you can quickly and easily explore spatial and non-spatial data using one single application. With Insights, you can maximize your productivity, analyze data more intelligently and tell better stories supported by in-depth spatial analysis.

Insights for ArcGIS can help you answer crucial questions: What happened? Why did it happen? What will happen? What should I do? In the article “Analytics – The Key to Transformation”, Chris North, director of industry solutions at Esri Canada, explains how these questions guide the analysis process–from being descriptive to becoming prescriptive.

Descriptive analysis answers the questions about where things are. Diagnostic analysis looks at the underlying relationships between datasets and explains the reasons behind those relationships while predictive analysis goes a step further by anticipating where the phenomena can happen. Lastly, prescriptive analysis reveals solutions that can bring you desired results in the given circumstances.

Let’s use the increasing crime and gun incidents in the City of Toronto as an example.

 Descriptive analytics: This map displays areas in Toronto with a higher number of crime and gun incidents. Shown in red are suspected gang areas with major gun crimes by neighbourhood. Diagnostic analytics: On the right, the scatter plot matrix looks at relationships between crime counts and demographics (e.g., not in labour force, no high school diploma, average household income).

With more than two dozen data visualization options and a suite of analysis tools in Insights, you can analyze data in many ways to better understand the quantities, relationships, change, interactions, distribution and proportions in your data. As you perform analysis, your steps are recorded behind the scenes in the Analysis view, making it easy for you to save your model and share it with colleagues in the organization. Two powerful functionalities in Insights are link analysis and regression analysis.

Connect the Dots Through Link Analysis

Link analysis focuses on finding connections and relationships within a dataset. In Insights, you can perform link analysis using link maps and link charts. A link map helps you visualize the relationship between different locations whereas a link chart shows the magnitude and direction of relationships between two or more categorical variables. The connections can be viewed as spider lines, which are undirected links between locations; the direction and magnitude of the relationship can be incorporated to create a flow map.

With the release of Insights for ArcGIS 3.0, users can now access several new capabilities: eigenvector centrality now calculates the influence of a node based on its connection to other influential nodes; link charts and maps can display three or more nodes; links can now be displayed by unique values using a string field; and the layer options pane for link maps and link charts has been redesigned to include tabs for options, style and legend.

Make Accurate Predictions with Regression Analysis

Regression analysis calculates the estimated relationship between a dependent variable and several explanatory variables. It allows you to model the relationship between your chosen variables through the Create Regression Model tool, which uses the Ordinary Least Squares method.

This tool produces function datasets containing the equation and statistics of the regression model, which can be used to analyze the model’s accuracy. The datasets are then used as an input to the Predict Variable tool to predict new number values.

The regression model includes outputs, such as R2 and residuals, to provide information on how well the model estimates the dependent variable. Charts, such as scatter plot matrices and histograms, can also be used in regression analysis to analyze relationships and test assumptions.

Predictive analytics: These two maps show what could happen in Toronto. The larger map is based on the number of current incidents in Toronto. The table looks at each neighbourhood and the number of current incidents to estimate how many incidents could have happened based on the demographics and regression model; the residual is the estimated minus the actual. The smaller map shows the predicted number of incidents based on the demographic change in the city from 2017 to 2022.

Insights Lets You Examine and Interpret

Do you know what happens after an analysis? Or why analysis even matters? It’s simple. Your analysis tools will produce results, which you must examine to find out if and how they answer your questions; if all of your questions have been answered; and if there are any other questions that you need to ask.

Performing spatial analytics generates a dataset of your results in the data pane. If more than one result was created from the same dataset, the results will appear in reverse chronological order, meaning the most recent results will appear at the top of the list. Other than visualizing your results as maps, charts and tables, you can also filter the dataset or cards with both attribute and spatial filters, calculate the average, count and sum, or identify the maximum and minimum values of numerical fields for advanced interpretations.

Prescriptive analytics: This map details what could be done to address crime and gun incidents in Toronto. The gang areas and the location of social services in the city are presented along with a proximity analysis to see how far they are from each other. The histogram shows that the average distance is 1 km, and virtually none of the social services locations are within the defined gang areas.

Three Key Benefits of Using Insights

  • Maximize your productivity:  Having the ability to analyze and visualize data from multiple sources at the same time and on the same screen using linked cards in the form of visually attractive layout goes a long way in increasing productivity.
  • Your shortcut to spatial thinking: Tease out and see underlying patterns in your data using spatial aggregation, density calculation, z-score and heat maps. Not only can you understand spatial relationships and incorporate authoritative demographic data in your analysis easily, but you can also leverage pre-defined and advanced filters and integrate those with ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS GeoAnalytics Server and ArcGIS GeoEvent Server.
  • Sharing and Collaboration: Working in teams across departments and organizations is the new norm. Insights lets you record your workflow steps, tracks all data and records it in a temporal format, and conveniently makes it available for other users that you would want to share it with.

With this data analytics workbench, you can find the answers to your questions that matter, make informed decisions and share your stories backed by powerful analytics. Learn more at

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2018 issue of ArcNorth News.