What is Geoprocessing?

Kenneth Smith defines geoprocessing and discusses how you can leverage the power of geoprocessing to perform common operations such as data conversion, data management, and analysis.

Jul 13th, 2011

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00:01What I'm going to do here this morning, here in the next 20 minutes…

00:03…is try to give you a little idea at a very high level of what geoprocessing is.

00:09I'm really not going to go into a lot of detail on how to do geoprocessing…

00:15…but kind of give you a conceptual view of what geoprocessing is and how it fits into ArcGIS.

00:23So my goals here in this session is to, number one, define what geoprocessing is.

00:30Number two, see where we could access the functionality that geoprocessing gives us.

00:37And number three, we'll take a look at some examples.

00:39I have some screen captures of different geoprocessing workflows that people have done.

00:45And then we'll actually take in, run some tools, just to try things out, to see how they all work.

00:52Fairly ambitious, but I think we should be able to get it done.

00:55If you have questions, I will be available after the session, so…

01:01…I can go off out of the hall if the room's busy, or we can go over to one of these circular tables…

01:06…and I can, hopefully, answer your questions for you.

01:09I'll also put business cards out here right after the session.

01:13Alright, so. Taking a look at geoprocessing.

01:16What is geoprocessing?

01:19Well, geoprocessing is one of the three main types of things that you can do with a system like ArcGIS.

01:27You can, number one, take data, visualize it, look at values, see patterns…

01:35…relationships, those type of things.

01:38You might use one of our applications called ArcMap to do it.

01:42Another aspect of working with ArcGIS is to be able to create, store, and manage your data.

01:50So that's that orange circle there at the bottom.

01:56The top circle here called Compute is where geoprocessing fits in.

02:01So when we look at geoprocessing, what are we doing?

02:05Well, we're taking some data, performing an operation on it, and it's going to return a result to you from that operation.

02:15That result could be something visual, or it might be data that helps answer a question…

02:22…or solve a problem, that type of thing.

02:25We'll still have our input data in exactly the same form it was…

02:28…but we have new output data as a result of running our particular task.

02:34So let's take a little bit, look more close look at this, at that top Compute circle.

02:41So we'll take a look at geoprocessing. There…

02:44…the tools, the things we have when we work with geoprocessing are going to involve either taking your tests you perform…

02:53…automating them so you can repeat them as needed…

02:58…or maybe you do a particular set of operations at one time.

03:02Might have data for my county or my city or something like that, and I have the need to work in a more focused area.

03:11By using geoprocessing, I can then take and extract out that subset…

03:18…and work with that subset of data within that little project area.

03:23Another major, very powerful component of geoprocessing is taking and answering questions.

03:31So this is under the modeling analysis.

03:34So I might have the need to locate a new store in a shopping center, or maybe I would have several choices…

03:42…and I need to take a look at where my customers are coming from.

03:48Do they have, are they really close to the customers I want to target…

03:52…or are they going to have to drive a long distance?

03:54Am I real close to freeways or those type of things so they can easily get to me, or am I quite a ways away?

04:01It might depend upon the type of store that I have.

04:03So I can take my information I have, maybe demographics along with transportation networks and all…

04:10…and kind of combine them together and get a result out. So that's a form of analysis.

04:16Now modeling, same type of thing.

04:18We're going to take our workflows, but we're going to actually visually see how the workflow is going to be performed.

04:30By using a model, we can change parameters if we don't like the result and run it again at a later time.

04:40Okay, so just a real quick definition here of our geoprocessing.

04:44So as I mentioned before, we're taking and working with data.

04:48We're managing it, we might be extracting parts of it out, or we might be answering questions.

04:55I might even have the need to update some data.

05:00I have a map that I'm putting together, and I've got nice polygons for property ownership…

05:07…but what I need to illustrate on the map is the acreage.

05:12Now I can run tools that can easily add an acres field to my data, calculate that value, and then I can use it in my map.

05:21So what were we doing? Well, most of our analysis is to solve problems, get an answer.

05:27Take a look at an answer doesn't make sense.

05:30If it doesn't, maybe we can tweak the parameters and run it again. So that's the basic purpose of it.

05:37In about 95 to 97 percent of our tools, [inaudible] results back in new sets of data.

05:47The other remaining things are more for helping us manage our data.

05:53Okay, so taking a look at our geoprocessing language. How do we access this geoprocessing functionality?

06:01We can do it through organized sets of tools that are contained within toolboxes.

06:09So the toolboxes are typically organized by the types of operations they perform.

06:14So if we look up here in the board here, I can see that I have tools broken out by whether it's working in 3D…

06:22…or if I want to extract data…

06:25…maybe combine several sets of data together…

06:28I might have the need to convert data from one format to another.

06:33Or I might be interested in managing components of my data, like adding a field or calculating or…

06:41…maybe changing the spatial reference coordinate system for my data.

06:46There's also tools for working with things such as…looking at whether data is being clustered together…

06:57…whether it's being randomly dispersed…

06:58…or whether there is some influence or some factor that causes our information to occur at that location.

07:06I might be looking at things…we'll take a sample here in a little bit.

07:09I might be looking at where accidents are happening along freeways.

07:13There must be some factor or some influence that's causing that to happen. We need to know what it is.

07:20So we could use geoprocessing tools to take a look and study that…

07:24…and get possible answers out as to what we can do to take care of that problem.

07:30On the right-hand side here, we can see some examples of different types of tools when we actually access and run them.

07:37They all have dialogs, so you can provide the information needed for the tool, then have it run.

07:46When the tool finishes, it will return the result to you.

07:53Alright, so one other example of how to get in and access your tools.

07:59What it might be, just to open that tool up in the toolbox, and that's the very top one here, where we have our Clip tool.

08:08So what's this tool doing?

08:10Well, it's just basically taking some input data, and it's going to extract out from that input data…

08:18…all the data that is contained within a clipping polygon.

08:23So this might be my project area, and the result is the output.

08:30So I can specify where I want the output located at.

08:33And when I run the tool, I get my result out and then I can continue on.

08:39Another type of way to access this geoprocessing functionality through what's called a model…

08:45…and that's that one in the middle here.

08:48So what do we got here?

08:49We've got the Clip tool again. It's shown in yellow.

08:54If you notice the blue circles on the left side, those are the input data sources, so…

09:00…I've got my study area and I've also got my sidewalks, and those are things that I would like to extract out.

09:09So what do I get as a result?

09:11I get all the sidewalks that are contained within the study area.

09:17The third option here is under the Python window.

09:20Now there is an ability for us to come in and script out…

09:28…our tools that are contained within our geoprocessing framework…

09:32…and actually access them by their name, and passing information to the tool, it then returns a result.

09:40An advantage of creating a script is that we can run anytime we want, we can schedule it when it needs to run…

09:47…or it might be included as part of our model within ModelBuilder. So our tools all tie together.

09:58Okay, let's take a look at some examples here of doing some analysis, those type of things, using our geoprocessing tools.

10:08So here's one. This is the city of Austin…

10:11…and they were taking a look to see where they have coverage for their cell towers that they have around the city.

10:19They want to make sure that, as the, as their city vehicles go around the city…

10:24…that they don't drop out in a certain location so they can't communicate with them.

10:30So taking a look at the…the input data of, would be in the cell towers and another input data would be in the actual surface…

10:38…they can see where the cell tower can broadcast its signal.

10:44So basically, just a geoprocessing task.

10:47Now the result is shown in the ArcMap application here. We're visualizing the result.

10:53Doesn't make sense to me. What I did was I might have made an assumption that I shouldn't have.

11:00Now if I did, I can rerun my geoprocessing tool and get another answer back.

11:08Okay, another example here that I mentioned earlier is…

11:10…taking a look and seeing where accidents are occurring along a freeway.

11:15So my inputs are going to be the freeways and the accidents, when they occurred, how often they occurred…

11:24…and by using the analysis tools that look at the relationships of where things happen and how often they happen…

11:32…which are called spatial statistics, I can then get an answer out as to where these accidents are occurring.

11:41This is the first step into, try and look and see why they're happening.

11:45It might be due to lane changes, might be due to road surface problems, or maybe…

11:54…people's attention is being diverted by some sort of a sign or something alongside the road.

12:00But we don't really know here. We do know one thing here, though, and that is that those accidents…

12:05…occurring more often in certain locations.

12:08So looking at those locations, we can then provide an answer.

12:12So our analysis can involve many different additional steps beyond just getting initial results.

12:17This gives us an initial idea of where things are happening at.

12:21Next question we ask, Why?

12:26Okay, here's another one here.

12:28We've got a map of Portland, Oregon, and we're looking at 911 calls that are occurring.

12:34And what we need to know here is, how often those calls are occurring at a certain location…

12:41…and how close they are to our resources that we can send to service that call. So looking at this…

12:48…we could provide a heat map of those locations where the calls are occurring more often than other locations…

12:56…and then analyze and see where our resources are, for example, those green plus signs there.

13:02And say, well, you know, I've got a lot of calls happening between my two resources, and it's taking some time to get there.

13:11Maybe I should look into locating an additional resource and placing it in that area.

13:18So this particular example here, we're looking at not only where it's happening but how often it's happening.

13:26If you look on the left side, there's an example of a model.

13:30So it's a series of geoprocessing steps that we're going through to both process the data and analyze it…

13:39…look at these relationships, and then provide the result.

13:45Okay. Here's an example of a model that I put together, and what we can do is take a look at several different factors.

13:54And what this is trying to answer is, is there a relationship between asthma that's occurring in young children…

14:02…and their proximity to major roads?

14:06Maybe they're living just maybe 500 to a thousand feet off of a major highway…

14:14…and we need to be able to determine if that is the occurrence, or maybe it's just a random type of problem.

14:21So by looking at the data here, by selecting our major roads, we can have that subset of roads.

14:27We can also come in and get a table of addresses and run those addresses and find their actual locations…

14:37…and then combine the two together to get an answer out.

14:42So that's the workflow here.

14:45What's nice about this is that I've defined a distance of 1,000 feet to search around this particular major highways…

14:54…but maybe it needs to be 2,000 feet or maybe 1,500 feet.

14:59Well, with this model, you can go in and change that distance and run it again and get a different answer about.

15:07So these are repeatable and reusable type of things.

15:13So let's take a look at how we can access our functionality within geoprocessing.

15:18So I'm going to run off into the ArcMap application and explore some of these things with you.

15:28Alright, here, I've got a little bit of data here for beautiful Palm Springs, California, and I just want to do a little bit of work with it.

15:38But let's see how we can access our data. Well, one way we can access data is to come in and open up a model.

15:51We'll take a look at the model. So I've got this model set up much like our example that we had in the slide earlier…

16:03…and it's doing the same type of thing. It's selecting major roads, selecting them by some characteristic.

16:09I'm going to buffer them by 1,000 feet.

16:12And then I'm going to come in and actually take a table of student addresses, geocode them…

16:19…buffer them by a little distance so I can compare the two, and then combine them together to try to get a result out.

16:28So we can look at the individual items here that are on these … so…

16:35…in this particular thing, what am I getting out? Well, I'm looking at streets that are major streets…

16:42…and then I've got buffering those streets by a certain distance, and those type of things.

16:47So let's go ahead and run this real quick. I'm going to run the entire model, and you'll see a little dialog…

16:54…when it goes through and runs it, you can actually see each step progressing through.

17:01And now I'm actually going into the table and I'm processing that table.

17:06I get an answer out, then I can buffer those and put them together, and look at the results in ArcMap.

17:15So I've combined the two datasets together and I get a result out.

17:22Okay, so it's completed, and then we can look at the results within our map.

17:26So the geocoded streets with students, which are the students that came from the table, are now placed…

17:34…and we combine buffers around them.

17:36We take the result of this and look at it and see the relationships a little bit further on and how they relate with each other.

17:46Another way to access functionality is through Python.

17:50Python is just a simple, high-level scripting language.

17:53And we can run the scripts either interactively, or we can put them into a model or run them anytime we want.

18:02So this is a special little language that accesses geoprocessing functionality. It's called Python.

18:08Let's go back to my slides here, and I'll kind of close things up here, 'cause we just have just a very few minutes left.

18:17To get more information about geoprocessing, how to put it all together, you can go to the website…


18:29…and in there, you'll see a screen much like this, and you can explore, take a look at these tools that you can run…

18:35…and learn a lot more about it.

18:40So there's a lot of sessions that we have here at the User Conference this year that talk about how to work with geoprocessing.

18:51To find those, go to our online agenda, can search for geoprocessing, and you'll see those pop up.

18:56There are still a few left today and also tomorrow if you're interested in exploring different aspects of doing geoprocessing.

19:04There's also demonstrations that are occurring within the Spatial Analysis Demo Theater…

19:10…and also the Mapping and Visual Demo Theater down in Hall B in the first floor.

19:18So I want to give you a reminder that with, you finish each session, you get a chance to get online…

19:25…go to esri.com/sessionevals.

19:29Give us feedback on our sessions that we present to you today.

19:33So this is my presentation, and I want to thank everybody for attending…

19:37…and I hope you have a wonderful rest of the User Conference this week.

19:42If you'd like my business cards, I have them up here. Okay, thank you!

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