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FAQ: How can a heat map be created in ArcMap?

Question

How can a heat map be created in ArcMap?

Answer

A heat map represents the geographic density of features on a map. Colored areas represent these points, which is useful for layers with a large number of features.

To create a heat map in ArcMap, create a layer with features before using tools in either the Density toolset of the Spatial Analyst toolbox or the Mapping Clusters toolset of the Spatial Statistics toolbox.

Use the Point Density, Line Density, or Kernel Density tools from the Spatial Analyst toolbox to calculate the density of features and create a heat map.

Point Density
The Point Density tool calculates the density of point features around each raster cell. In concept, each raster cell is defined as a neighborhood, and the size and shape of the neighborhood can be adjusted. Refer to the following ArcGIS Help document, How Point Density works, for more information.

Line Density
The Line Density tool calculates the density of line features within a radius around each output cell. Line density is calculated in reference to a conceptual circular neighborhood drawn around the center of each raster cell. Refer to the following ArcGIS Help document, How Line Density works, for more information.

Kernel Density
The Kernel Density tool uses an algorithm to calculate density of point features around each neighborhood. The algorithm determines the default search radius (bandwidth), which allows for better weighting of highly dense points and smoother outputs. The following ArcGIS Help document, How Kernel Density works, further describes the tool.

Note:
When using any of the tools, the selection of classification method is important as it can significantly affect the result of the heat map. It is important to select the best classification method suited to the data and the objective of the study. For more information about classification methods, refer to the following ArcGIS Help document, Classifying numerical fields for graduated symbology.

Alternatively, Cluster and Outlier Analysis (Anselin Local Moran's I), Hot Spot Analysis (Getis-Ord Gi*), and Optimized Hot Spot Analysis from the Mapping Clusters toolset of the Spatial Statistics toolbox can create a heat map as well. The Optimized Hot Spot Analysis tool is only available in ArcGIS for Desktop 10.2 and later.

Note:
Other Esri products, such as ArcGIS Runtime SDK for WPF, ArcGIS for SharePoint, ArcGIS API for JavaScript, and Esri Maps for IBM Cognos, have functionality available for creating heat maps.

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