Perform a void analysis

The void analysis workflow analyzes an area you choose (the analysis area) to detect voids and gaps in specific businesses and services, compared to another area (the reference area). A void means that a business or business type exists in the reference area but not in the analysis area, and a gap means that there are fewer of these businesses in the analysis area than in the reference area. Identify the area you want to analyze, select the business categories you want to evaluate, and view analysis results that break down voids and gaps in the selected businesses.


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

Void analysis is a guided workflow that takes you through each step: choose an analysis area, select business categories, and view and save your results. For guidance on exploring and interpreting the analysis results, see Void analysis reference.

To perform a void analysis, do the following:

  1. On the Maps tab, click Run analysis and choose Void analysis.

    The Void analysis pane appears.

  2. Click Get started. Optionally, check the Skip this in the future check box to bypass the introductory pane the next time you perform this workflow.
  3. Click Select analysis area.

    The Select analysis area window appears.

    The analysis area is the area you want to analyze and identify whether voids and gaps are present. You can select multiple sites and neighboring geographies to make up your analysis area.

  4. Select sites from the Recent, Currently on map, and From projects tabs and click Apply.

    The specified analysis area is now listed in the Void analysis pane. By default, a buffer is created around the analysis area and set as the reference area.

  5. Optionally, click Change reference area. Choose a reference area in the Setting the reference area window and click OK.

    Choose one of the following options:

    • Expand the analysis area by a factor—The area is expanded by a factor you enter. The default factor is 2. For analysis areas that are point location sites, the radius is multiplied by the factor. For example, a 5-mile ring around a point location is expanded with a 10-mile ring. For analysis areas that are polygons or standard geographies, the area is expanded by the factor size. For example, a polygon expanded by a factor of 2 is expanded with a buffer that increases the area to approximately twice the original size.
    • Expand the analysis area by a fixed distance or time—The area's units (miles, kilometers, or minutes) are expanded by a value you enter. The default is 5.
    • Use the nearest standard geography—Use the drop-down menu to choose a geography that intersects with the analysis area.
    • Select area manually—Use the Select reference area window to choose a second site as the reference area.
  6. Click Next.

    Lists of business types are shown. Business data is used to determine surplus or gaps in the analysis area. You can perform your analysis with a single business (such as Starbucks), a business category (such as Pet Services), or with grouped categories (such as Housing).

  7. Optionally, if the data source is set to a location with multiple POI data sources, use the Data source drop-down menu to choose a data source.
  8. Select a list from the Popular lists or My lists tab. Alternatively, you can click Create custom list to create a custom list. To view the categories and data source in a list, click Show list Show list.

    When you select a list, the analysis runs automatically and your results appear in the workflow pane and on the map. For guidance on exploring and interpreting the analysis results, see Void analysis reference.

  9. Optionally, to export the analysis results, click the Full results button and click Export.
    1. Choose Export to Excel or Export to PDF. For Export to PDF, you can include a map of the analysis area, reference area, or both. For both options, you can check the Include individual business locations check box to include locations in the exported results. Including individual business locations in the exported results uses credits.
    2. Click Export results. The results are exported in the format you chose.

    • When exporting to PDF, the report includes only locations shown in the current view of the results table. You can export a maximum of 3,000 individual business locations to PDF. If the analysis results contain more than 3,000 locations, the exported locations are scaled down in proportion to the number of results in each category.
    • When exporting to Excel, the report includes locations of all voids, gaps, and surpluses.

  10. Click Finish.
  11. To complete the workflow, the following options are available:
    • View/export results—Return to the workflow results.
    • New void analysis—Return to the first stage of the workflow to start a new void analysis.
    • I'm done—Close the void analysis workflow.

Style analysis results

In the void analysis workflow pane, on the Map style tab, you can customize the appearance of the results on the map.

  • By default, nearby point clusters are represented on the map by a single symbol. Uncheck the Cluster points check box to view all the points.
  • Expand Analysis area and Reference area to modify the fill and border type, color, and transparency for the areas.
  • Expand Locations only in reference area and Locations in both areas to modify the symbol and its color and size for these locations. Use the All drop-down menu and choose a category to create category-specific symbology.

Create a custom list

In the void analysis workflow, you can create a custom list for your analysis. In step 8 of the workflow above, create your own list by doing the following:

  1. Click the Create custom list button.

    The Create custom list window appears.

  2. Optionally, if the country or region is set to a location with multiple POI data sources, use the Data source drop-down menu to choose a data source.
  3. On the Use standard data tab, use the Category drop-down menu to select business categories or click More options and search by NAICS/SIC codes. If you decide to group custom business data, the void analysis results will show the total gap or surplus for all businesses, as well as the gap or surplus for each category that you selected.

    See Use a custom layer if you want to use data—for example, from a web service—using the From custom layer tab.

  4. In the Field to determine void drop-down menu, choose the field that will be used to compare the analysis and reference areas.
  5. When you are finished selecting categories for the list, you can save the list and run the analysis.
    • Click Run analysis to immediately run the analysis using the list you made, without saving the list for future use.
    • Click Save list to choose a name and icon for the list. The saved list appears under My lists for future void analyses. When you are finished, click Save and run analysis to run the analysis immediately.

Use a custom layer

In the void analysis workflow, Esri-provided business data is used to determine the gaps in your analysis area. Alternatively, you can choose a custom layer as the business data. Follow the instructions to add web maps and layers. In step 8 of the workflow above, you can select the layer you added by doing the following:

  1. Click the Create custom list button.

    The Create custom list window appears.

  2. Click the From custom layer tab and click Add custom layer.

    The Select custom layer window appears.

  3. Browse to the web map you want to use and expand it to view and select a layer.

    The layer is selected as the business data to be used to determine the gaps in the void analysis. The following drop-down menus are enabled:

    • Field to determine void—The field in the layer used to determine whether the business has a gap or void.
    • Field to group results—The field used to group the results into different categories, similar to categories selected under the By category option.

      If the Field to group results drop-down menu has no selection, the results will be shown as one category—in this case, All.

  4. Click Run analysis.
    The results are displayed on the Results tab of the workflow pane and are also represented on the map.

Set preferences

You can set preferences for Business Analyst Web App in the application preferences. For the void analysis workflow, you can turn the intro page on or off, choose your reference area setting, and set your style options. Administrators can set preferences for the entire organization.

To set the workflow preferences, do the following:

  1. On the app header, click My preferences Preferences.

    The Preferences window appears.

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

    • For Reference area settings, choose one of the following options:

      • Expand the analysis area by a factor—The default setting
      • Expand the analysis area by a fixed distance or time
      • Use the nearest standard geography
      • Select area manually

    • Expand the Map style section and set the following preferences:

      • Use the drop-down menus to style the symbols for locations only in the reference area and locations in both areas.
      • Set the Fill and Border settings for the analysis area and reference area.

  4. To restore the default settings, click Restore defaults.
  5. To save your changes, click Save or, optionally, click Save and close to close the Preferences window. To view your changes, refresh the app.