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When calculating the distance between a given feature and the closest feature in another layer or feature class using the Near tool, the results returned are different when compared to the distance measured between the same features using the Measure tool.
The following are examples of the results returned when calculating the distance between feature A and feature B using the Near tool and the Measure tool. In the following images, the measurement taken between points A and B using the Near tool shows a distance of 32,031.192086 meters, while the same distance, when measured using the Measure tool, shows a distance of 31,445.96838 meters.
The discrepancy occurs due to the difference in the coordinate system used between the dataset and the data frame. The Near tool relies on the input dataset coordinate system, whereas the Measure tool relies on the data frame coordinate system.
To ensure the Near tool is returning the same distance as the Measure tool, the coordinate system used by the dataset and the data frame must be the same. Depending on whether the data frame or the dataset has the correct coordinate system, use one of the following options to solve this issue:
Match the dataset coordinate system to the data frame coordinate system
For cases in which the data frame has the correct coordinate system, match the coordinate system of the dataset to the data frame coordinate system using the Project tool:
Note: In cases where both the dataset and data frame have the wrong coordinate system, use the same steps to change the coordinate system of the dataset and data frame to the most accurate coordinate system. Refer to the following document to determine which coordinate system is the most suitable for a dataset: How To: Select a suitable map projection or coordinate system.