Mapping out the perfect journey with ArcGIS Network Analyst
Learn how to get from point A to point B with ArcGIS Network Analyst route solver.
Are you tired of struggling to send deliveries across the country, wasting valuable time and money on inefficient routes? Or are you looking to plan a road trip and want to ensure that you take the most scenic and efficient path possible? Look no further! With the powerful tools of ArcGIS Network Analyst, you can easily tackle even the most complex routing problems and plan your travels like a true pro.
But what is ArcGIS Network Analyst? It's a powerful ArcGIS Pro extension that allows you to create network datasets of interconnected features, such as roads, railways, or even air travel routes. By using Network Analyst's route solver, you can quickly generate the best routes based on your needs.
So, let's take a closer look at how Network Analyst's route solver can help you plan your next adventure! We'll use the example of a flight route between Flin Flon in Manitoba and Happy Valley-Goose Bay in Newfoundland and Labrador. Do not worry, there is no need for a pilot's license! We'll show you how to create a flight route that meets your needs, using ArcGIS Network Analyst's powerful tools.
You can download the data used and follow along.
Are you ready to embark on a journey with our data? Buckle up, because the first step is to gather all the necessary information! For this analysis, we're going to use Canadian airports and the flight paths between them. The network dataset is the foundation of our journey, so it's crucial to make sure it's accurate and complete.
To achieve this, we'll use topology, a set of rules that define how geographic features are related to each other. By performing topological checks on our data, we can avoid issues such as disconnected or overlapping features, gaps in coverage, and other errors that could throw off our routing results.
Since we're flying between known airport locations, we need to ensure that every flight path ends at an airport. Using the topology rule "Endpoint Must Be Covered By" will check if every route line is covered by an airport at each end. This check will result in a point validation layer that highlights the endpoints that are not connected to airports:
Once validated the topology rule “Endpoint Must Be Covered” will show any route lines not connected to an airport as an error.
Tip: If you are running into issues creating topology make sure your data is in a Feature Dataset.
By editing any error features and repairing connectivity issues in our data, we can be confident that there are no broken paths along our route. So, let's get to it and make sure our data is ready for takeoff!
More of a visual learner? Don't worry, you can see how this is in the following video:
VIDEO: Topology in ArcGIS Pro
Building a Network:
Creating a network dataset may sound intimidating, but it's a breeze! Since we've already gathered and cleaned our data, we simply need to add a new network dataset to our geodatabase.
To do this, right-click on the feature dataset and select "Add New Network Dataset." Give it a name, select your layers, and voila! We're ready to start building.
Create network datasets in your feature dataset.
Once we've created our new network dataset, we can quickly and easily build it by right-clicking on it in the table of contents and selecting Build. Now we have our very own flight network dataset, primed and ready for analysis.
Solving the route:
It's time to put our data to work and solve the route! Start by selecting the Network Analyst dropdown in the Workflows section of the Analysis ribbon. Set the data source to the network dataset we created earlier and select the Route option.
To tell the route solver where we're starting and ending, we need to import stops. In our case, we'll filter the data to only include the Flin Flon and Goose Bay airports using a definition query on the Canadian airports layer. Then, we can easily select these two locations as our stops. You could also create a new feature layer containing only these two points.
When there is a definition query applied to the layer only those features displayed on the map will be included as a part of the input features.
Our stops are in and automatically ordered for us, with Flin Flon as our starting point (labeled 1) and Goose Bay as our destination (labeled 2). If you need to change the order of your stops, you can easily do this in the sequence field of the stops attribute table.
The stops are automatically assigned a sequence value that can be changed in the attribute table.
Next, we'll apply our travel settings. Since we'll be traversing across time zones, we'll set our sequence to preserve first stop. You can learn more about other sequence options, as well as settings not used in this analysis, including barriers, in the tool documentation.
With all our pre-flight checks complete, we're ready for liftoff! Hit the Run button and watch as the final route is generated.
The final route is completed and highlighted on the map.
Congratulations, after departing Flin Flon flying through Winnipeg, Montreal and Labrador City we finally landed at Goose Bay airport! In just a few minutes, we were able to build an accurate network dataset and create a route across the nation. I'm excited to see how you'll use these tools to map your own journeys.
To review and follow along with the route building workflow check out this GeoSnap: