Perform a suitability analysis

The Suitability Analysis workflow identifies sites that meet criteria you define. First, select sites to include in the analysis, and then choose and weight your criteria. The workflow ranks your sites—displayed as color-coded symbols on the map—and adjusts the rankings as you add, remove, or change weights of criteria. The results of this analysis appear in the results table and can be saved as a new layer in your project or exported to an Excel worksheet.

License:

The Suitability Analysis workflow is available to users with a Business Analyst Web App Advanced license. To learn more about Business Analyst license types, see Licenses.

Suitability Analysis is a guided workflow that takes you through each step: select sites, select criteria, refine criteria, and view and refine your results.

To perform a suitability analysis, do the following:

  1. On the Maps tab, click Run Analysis and select Suitability Analysis.

    The Suitability Analysis pane appears.

  2. Click Get Started. Optionally, check the Skip this in the future check box to bypass the Get Started pane the next time you perform this workflow.
  3. Choose Add Sites from Project or Start with Features on Map.
    Note:

    You can select a maximum of 5,000 existing sites. Alternately, you can select up to 1,000 features on the map—for example, features added to the map through Points of Interest Search or by importing a file.

    If you chose Add Sites from Project, use the Add Sites window to select from recently used sites, sites currently on the map, or sites from any project. Click Apply.

  4. In the next pane, confirm your selections. Uncheck the check boxes next to sites you do not want to include in the analysis. Click Add sites to include additional sites. Click Prefilter Prefilter to display only sites that meet specific conditions.
  5. Once you have selected the sites for the analysis, click Next.
  6. Select criteria for the suitability analysis. To add criteria to the analysis, do the following:
    • Use a criteria list—Select a list from the Popular lists tab or click the My lists tab to select from lists that you have previously created and saved. To view, edit, or delete variable lists, click the Action menu Action menu.
    • Add variables from the data browser—Click Add Criteria and select Add variables from data browser. Choose your variables and click Apply. Optionally, once you have selected your criteria, you can click Save List to store the selected items under the My Lists tab for future use. Choose a name for the list and click Save.
    • Add attributes from your sites—Click Add Criteria and select Add attributes from sites. If your site attributes include numeric fields, such as square footage or rent, these attributes are shown in the Add Site Attributes window. Select attributes and click OK.
    • Add a point layer—Click Add Criteria and select Add point layer. Most layers in the current project are available in the Add Point Layer window. To add a layer not listed, such as a web map, check its check box in the Project panel, and return to the suitability analysis. Select a point layer to automatically add it to the map. Click Close.

    Once you have added criteria using one of the above methods, the suitability analysis runs automatically, displaying the results in the next pane.

  7. Optionally, continue to add criteria to the analysis. Click Add criteria and follow one of the above methods.
  8. Refine your criteria in the workflow pane.

    The selected criteria are weighted equally by default, but you can adjust the criteria weights and modify the calculation methods manually. To refine your criteria, do the following:

    • To adjust the weights of the criteria, use the Weight slider. The weights for all criteria add up to 100 percent. Therefore, if you increase or decrease the weight for any criteria, the weights for each remaining criterion automatically decrease or increase proportionately. To prevent the weight of a criterion from changing, click Lock Lock.

    • To change the influence of the criteria, click More options. Positive influence is selected by default, which means that the higher the value of the variable, the greater its effect on the final score. Select Inverse to calculate the opposite: the lower the value, the greater its effect on the score. Select Ideal to define an ideal value for the criteria. The closer the value of the variable to the specified ideal, the greater its effect on the score will be.

    • To define a range of values for a variable, click More options. Use the Threshold slider to specify the range of values for the variable. Adjust the slider handles to define the minimum and maximum values included in the analysis or enter values manually.

    • If you added a point layer as one of the criteria, you can specify how the points contribute to the analysis. Count of points is the default selection, which means that the variable is the number of points from this layer that fall within the boundaries of sites in the analysis. To change this selection, click More options.

      Select Summarize layer attribute to use an attribute in the point layer as a variable in the analysis. Choose an attribute from the layer in the Weight Field drop-down menu and select the calculation method in the Statistic Type drop-down menu.

      Select Distance to nearest point to use the distance from a site to the nearest point from the layer as a variable in the analysis.

  9. To temporarily remove a criterion from the analysis, uncheck the check box next to that criterion.

    As you select and refine criteria, the symbols on the map and the information in the results table automatically update, displaying the new site rankings. The results table lists the sites in the table rows, and other information—the size of the site, its rank, its suitability score, and the criteria—in the table columns.

  10. Hover over an item in the results table to highlight the corresponding site on the map. Double-click any row in the table to zoom to the corresponding site on the map. Click any column header to sort the table by the data in that column.

  11. To refine your suitability analysis results, do the following in the Suitability Analysis pane:
    • Turn on the Show locations only toggle button to view sites without rings, drive times, or walk times. In this mode, the site locations on the map are numbered by their suitability rankings.
    • Use the Ranking color drop-down menu to select the color ramp for displaying results on the map and in the table.
    • Click the Filter by score button to display only sites that meet a maximum and minimum suitability score. Use the sliders to define the range you want to view or enter values manually. Click Done.

Export suitability analysis results

You can export the results of a suitability analysis to an Excel file or to a new suitability layer in your current project.

To export your results, do the following:

  1. In the workflow pane, click Export.
  2. In the Export window, choose Export to Excel or Export to a new suitability layer. If you choose to export to a suitability layer, create a name for the layer.
  3. Click Export.

    The Excel file is downloaded to your computer, or the new layer is saved under the Suitability Analysis section of your project contents.

  4. To open a saved suitability layer, locate the layer in the Suitability Analysis section of the project pane. Click the layer's Action menu Action menu and click Open analysis to reopen the analysis and modify it.

Suitability score calculations

The weighted score for each variable is calculated as a percent difference between the value for a given site and to the target value selected by the user. A site's final suitability score is calculated by adding the weighted scores for each of the variables used in the analysis.

The settings that inform each variable's score calculations are found in the Suitability Analysis pane. Each variable and its weight in the analysis is displayed in a box. The influence and range of values for the variable are found under More options.

Suitability Analysis variable

Positive influence

Positive influence means that the higher the value of the variable, the greater its effect on the final score. This is calculated as the variable value for a site minus the minimum value for that variable, divided by the range of values. This score is then multiplied by the weight assigned to the variable in the analysis. The formula is as follows:

Score calculation for positive influence

For example, you have added the Total Population variable to a suitability analysis. The population at your site is 332,525 and the range of population at all your sites is 153,957 to 727,103. You've weighted the variable at 25% of the total suitability score. The calculation is as follows:

Example formula with values

Inverse influence

Inverse influence means that the lower the value of the variable, the greater its effect on the score. This is also referred to as negative influence. This is calculated as the maximum value for a variable minus the variable value for a site, divided by the range of values. This score is then multiplied by the weight assigned to the variable in the analysis. The formula is as follows:

Score calculation for inverse influence

For example, you have added the Total Population variable to a suitability analysis. The population at your site is 332,525 and the range of population at all your sites is 153,957 to 727,103. You've weighted the variable at 25% of the total suitability score. The calculation is as follows:

Example formula with values

Ideal influence

Ideal influence defines an ideal value for the variable. The closer the value of the variable to the specified ideal, the greater its effect on the score. This is calculated as the ideal value for a variable minus the variable value for a site, divided by the difference between either the ideal and the minimum, or the ideal and the maximum (whichever value is greater). This score is then multiplied by the weight assigned to the variable in the analysis. The formula is as follows:

Score calculation for ideal influence

For example, you have added the Total Population variable to a suitability analysis. You have set the ideal value for the variable as 500,000. The population at your site is 332,525 and the range of population at all your sites is 153,957 to 727,103. You've weighted the variable at 25% of the total suitability score. The calculation is as follows:

Example formula with values

Set preferences

You can set preferences for Business Analyst Web App in the application preferences. For the Suitability Analysis workflow, you can turn the intro page on or off, set color defaults, and adjust the point layer influence to be positive or negative. Administrators can set preferences for the entire organization.

To set the workflow preferences, do the following:

  1. On the top ribbon, click Preferences Preferences.

    The Preferences window appears.

  2. Expand the Maps section, expand the Run Analysis section, and click Suitability Analysis.
  3. You can set the following preferences:
    • Uncheck the Show Suitability Analysis Intro Page check box to skip the workflow overview page when you run the analysis.

    • Use the Colors drop-down menu to select a color ramp for the results on the map. Use the Transparency slider to adjust the color transparency.

    • For Point layer influence, select Positive or Negative.

    You can restore the default settings by clicking Restore Defaults.

  4. To save your changes, click Save or, optionally, click Save and Close to close the Preferences window. To view your changes, refresh the app.

Workflow video