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An overview of the Proximity toolset

One of the most basic questions asked of a GIS is "what's near what?" For example:

  • How close is this well to a landfill?
  • Do any roads pass within 1,000 meters of a stream?
  • What is the distance between two locations?
  • What is the nearest or farthest feature from something?
  • What is the distance between each feature in a layer and the features in another layer?
  • What is the shortest street network route from some location to another?

The Proximity toolset contains tools that are used to determine the proximity of features within one or more feature classes or between two feature classes. These tools can identify features that are closest to one another or calculate the distances between or around them.



Creates buffer polygons around input features to a specified distance.

Create Thiessen Polygons

Creates Thiessen polygons from point features.

Each Thiessen polygon contains only a single point input feature. Any location within a Thiessen polygon is closer to its associated point than to any other point input feature.

Generate Near Table

Calculates distances and other proximity information between features in one or more feature class or layer. Unlike the Near tool, which modifies the input, Generate Near Table writes results to a new stand-alone table and supports finding more than one near feature.

Graphic Buffer

Creates buffer polygons around input features to a specified distance. A number of cartographic shapes are available for buffer ends (caps) and corners (joins) when the buffer is generated around the feature.

Multiple Ring Buffer

Creates multiple buffers at specified distances around the input features. These buffers can optionally be merged and dissolved using the buffer distance values to create non-overlapping buffers.


Calculates distance and additional proximity information between the input features and the closest feature in another layer or feature class.

Polygon Neighbors

Creates a table with statistics based on polygon contiguity (overlaps, coincident edges, or nodes).

Tools in the Proximity toolset

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