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ArcGIS Spatial Analyst - spatial modeling and analysis tools
Features > About Spatial Analyst 

ArcGIS Spatial Analyst provides an easy way to perform advanced GIS analysis

ArcGIS Spatial Analyst provides a broad range of powerful modeling and analysis features that allow you to quickly derive the information you need from your GIS data. You can perform this analysis in a variety of ways.


Complex analysis tasks can be simplified within simple algebra-like expressions (map algebra). Many people have worked with map algebra for years and will be able to be productive very quickly with this interface.
This example identifies and prioritizes suitable habitat locations for an endangered bird species. The model combines elevation, slope, and vegetation into an index of habitat suitability. 

The second way to perform analysis is through the geoprocessing tools of ArcGIS Desktop. The geoprocessing environment allows you to use models (ModelBuilder), scripts, dialog boxes (ArcToolbox), and a command line to perform your analysis.

In the geoprocessing environment, you can use the more than 150 ArcGIS Spatial Analyst tools in the exact same environment that you use the rest of the ArcGIS Desktop tools. This allows you to build the appropriate model for your application without having to change environments between processes.

Analysis Toolbox
ArcGIS Spatial Analyst is also a comprehensive tool set for GIS analysis. You can use it to perform integrated raster/vector analysis and derive information about your data, identify spatial relationships, find suitable locations, and calculate the accumulated cost of traveling from one point to another.
The fire behavior index model is a graphic model created using ModelBuilder. ArcGIS Spatial Analyst tools were used to calculate an index of fire behavior or risk. 

Using ArcGIS Spatial Analyst you can interpolate data values for a study area based on a collection of samples; clean up data to prepare it for further analysis or display; and calculate spatial statistics based on the local environment, small neighborhoods, or predetermined zones. All of these analysis operations will allow you to learn more about your data and help you make better informed decisions.

The fire behavior index model is a graphic model created using ModelBuilder. ArcGIS Spatial Analyst tools were used to calculate an index of fire behavior or risk. A digital elevation model was used to derive slope and aspect maps, which were combined with land cover data (fuel type) to arrive at a final index measure.

Why Use ArcGIS Spatial Analyst?

With ArcGIS Spatial Analyst you can:

  • Derive information. Use ArcGIS Spatial Analyst to create useful information from your existing data. Create a hillshade to provide a realistic backdrop of the terrain or calculate slope to identify steep slopes. Identify the distance or direction to each road or calculate the population density of a region.
  • Identify spatial relationships. Explore relationships between data sets, for example, to find out if there is a relationship between outbreaks of leukemia and distance to nuclear power plants or if aspect determination is important for the survival of a plant species.
  • Find suitable locations. Suitable locations can be found by querying your data or by creating a suitability map. Query data sets to find locations higher than 3,000 feet in elevation and within five miles of a town, or create a suitability map by combining data sets to examine the suitability of every identified location.
  • Calculate cost of travel. Calculate the accumulated cost of traveling across the landscape, then find the least cost path from point A to point B.

Who uses ArcGIS Spatial Analyst?
Any organization or individual who needs to conduct spatial analysis for real-world problems will benefit from ArcGIS Spatial Analyst. A contractor can use ArcGIS Spatial Analyst to identify areas suitable for new development. A hydrologist can use hydrologic modeling to analyze temporal changes in sedimentary processes in a given terrain. ArcGIS Spatial Analyst gives you the power to attain tangible answers for complicated real-world spatial problems.

Next: Key Features of ArcGIS Spatial Analyst

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