Explore tools

Planners and designers use geographic data to understand and describe a study area. Spatial analysis can reveal useful information about an area and help you assess its suitability for or vulnerability to development activities. You can use analysis tools with geographic data to understand opportunities and risks in an area. ArcGIS GeoPlanner provides analysis tools that can help you increase your spatial awareness, so you can plan and design more effectively in a specific geographic context.

The Explore tab contains tools to help you visualize your planning area and understand how it behaves or performs.

Explore tab tools

The functionality on the Explore tab includes the following:

  • Add DataDiscover datasets from ArcGIS Online.
  • Analysis—Execute spatial analysis tools to help you understand how an area performs. Tools include Create Buffers, Create Travel–Time Areas, and Enrich Layer.
  • Modeler—Identify suitability for development or an activity in an area by overlaying layers and ranking outputs.

Add Data

GeoPlanner allows you connect to ArcGIS Online and discover datasets that describe the world. Many of these datasets can be directly used in your planning projects. You can discover feature, map, and image layers. You can also discover weighted overlay models (suitability models) generated by other contributors from your organization and others. If you share your own datasets, you can also discover and add these datasets to your project.


Data analysis tools create new layers for the following purposes:

  • Depict how an area functions or performs.
  • Depict how that performance relates to the active scenario or another polygon feature layer in a GeoPlanner dashboard chart.

GeoPlanner provides analysis and classification tools. Analysis tools allow you to create datasets that help you visualize a phenomenon in or ask a question about an area to better understand how it functions. Classification tools allow you to rank values in those datasets to help you understand suitability of an activity in that area. Ranking, through classification, helps you understand how an area performs. Classification in GeoPlanner entails mapping input values to a suitability scale of up to nine values.

Spatial analysis tools

GeoPlanner includes many spatial analysis tools hosted on ArcGIS Online. On ArcGIS Online, use of spatial analysis tools consumes organizational credits for both executing the tool and storing the output features. Each spatial analysis tool has a credit estimator, so you can estimate how many credits the operation will consume before you execute it. Cost of execution and feature storage tends to be very low.

GeoPlanner has two types of tools available for assessment: spatial analysis and suitability analysis. Spatial analysis tools execute against feature layers and create output layers. Suitability analysis tools use weighted raster overlay to generate a new image layer item in your organization.

After you execute a tool, you'll need to reclassify the output.


Classification helps you make sense of your data by sorting and arranging values into easily understood qualitative groups. The GeoPlanner Classify tool allows you to rank features in a dataset based on attribute values to help you understand and visualize suitability. Ranking is a method to understand performance. This tool can be used for most feature layers and creates a new layer item in your ArcGIS organization. The layer item can be used as an assessment layer in the GeoPlanner dashboards.

The following table includes questions that you may ask about an area to help you understand how that area functions. It lists an analysis tool that helps you answer each question and includes an example output. It then shows how you can classify that output to help you visualize suitability or performance of the area.

Example questionToolOutputClassifyAssessment layer

What is within a 5-, 10-, and 15-minute drive?

Create Travel-Times Area

Travel times within a 5-, 10-, and 15-minute drive from a point

Green symbol—5-minute travel time, highest suitability

Yellow symbol—10-minute travel time, medium suitability

Red symbol—15-minute travel time, lowest suitability

Travel-time classification

How much of this area resides on wetlands?

Enrich Layer

Layer enriched with wetlands data

Green symbol—Smallest wetlands area, lowest risk or impact

Yellow symbol—Medium risk or impact

Red symbol—Most wetlands, highest risk or impact

Percent wetlands classification

Which neighborhoods had the most crime events?

Summarize Within

Result of summarizing crimes within a neighborhood

Green symbol—Fewest crimes, lowest risk

Yellow symbol—Medium risk

Red symbol—Most crimes, highest risk

Crimes classification

Custom analysis

GeoPlanner allows you to discover and execute custom geoprocessing services so you can access powerful analytical tools.


Weighted raster overlay is a technique for modeling suitability and helps you find the best location for an activity. GeoPlanner supports weighted overlay through the Modeler on the Explore tab. The Modeler allows you to browse and choose a service that supports weighted overlay through image layers (rasters) served from ArcGIS Server. GeoPlanner includes Esri-curated weighted overlay services. You can also create your own services if you have ArcGIS Server, ArcGIS Image Server, and ArcGIS Spatial Analyst. The output of a weighted raster overlay analysis is an image layer item type in your organization. The output layer combines both the assessment and classification steps described above.

The following table includes questions you may ask to help understand suitability for an activity in an area. It also shows layers that you can combine in a weighted overlay to visualize the answer to each question. Finally, it contains sample output layer graphics and an explanation of the classification of the layer.

Example questionService and layersOutputClassification

Where is fire risk highest in the forest?

USA Landscape Data

  • Insect and disease risk
  • Wildland Fire Potential
  • Woody Biomass

Fire risk

Green—Low fire risk

Orange—Elevated fire risk

Red—Highest fire risk

Where are the best locations for growing grapes?

USA Landscape Data

  • Aspect
  • Elevation
  • Slope

Areas suitable for viticulture

Green—Best locations, highly suitable

Orange—Less suitable

Red—Worst locations, lowest suitability

Where are areas of highest income and highest total losses?


  • Average income
  • Total losses

Areas of high incomes and high total losses

Green—Lowest losses and incomes

Yellow—Medium losses and incomes

Red—Highest losses and incomes

The Modeler helps you identify areas that meet your criteria by combining raster layers to produce suitability layers. These layers can also be used as assessment layers in the dashboards. You can create new or edit existing models from tools on the Modeler drop-down menu.

In this topic
  1. Add Data
  2. Analysis
  3. Modeler