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FAQ: What are the tools used to create heat maps, hot spots, and interpolation surfaces in ArcMap?

Question

What are the tools used to create heat maps, hot spots, and interpolation surfaces in ArcMap?

Answer

In ArcMap, various tools are available to create heat maps, hot spots, and interpolation surfaces. Use the most appropriate tool depending on the input data and the desired output, as listed in the table below.

ToolboxToolsetToolsType of Surface
Spatial AnalystDensity Heat Map
Interpolation Interpolation
3D AnalystRaster Interpolation Interpolation
Geostatistical AnalystInterpolation Interpolation
Spatial StatisticsMapping Clusters Hot Spot

Although heat maps, hot spots, and interpolation surfaces look similar and the terms used are interchangeable, the concept between these surfaces is different. The table below shows the comparison.

 Heat MapHot SpotInterpolation
DefinitionTo visualize the spread of data. The measured quantity of an input layer is distributed throughout the landscape.To define areas of high and low occurrences, and spatial outliers, based on statistical analysis.To predict the values at locations where no data are available based on the sampled data.
InputPoint or line featuresPoint, line, or polygon featuresPoint features containing z-values (except for Topo to Raster and Topo to Raster by File)
OutputA floating-point raster layerAn output feature class containing the z-score and p-valueA raster layer
ExtensionSpatial Analyst extensionSpatial Statistics extensionSpatial Analyst, 3D Analyst, or Geostatistical Analyst extension
AppearanceColor gradients are used to portray the clustering of data

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