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Suitability Analysis

Available with Business Analyst license.

Suitability Analysis allows you to qualify, compare, and rank candidate sites based on how closely they adhere to criteria that you select and define.


This topic is specific to Suitability Analysis in Business Analyst for ArcGIS Pro. If you are interested in raster-based suitability modeling documentation, see the Spatial Analyst extension documentation.

This scalable workflow can answer questions such as the following:

  • Which region of the country is most suitable for expansion?
  • Within the selected region, which area is most conducive to sales growth?
  • Within the market selected for expansion, which candidate site is best?
  • How does weighting the existence of competitors as two times more important than the number of people in your trade area change the suitability score?

Suitability Analysis is performed on polygonal inputs that are formatted as your Suitability Analysis layer. These can represent sales regions, standard geographies such as counties, or candidate site trade areas.

The analyses of suitability layer candidates are ranked and scored based on criteria that you select and control. Criteria can be added from the following three sources:

  • Variable-based criteria—You can enrich your Suitability Analysis layer with data from the ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World, which includes the Business Analyst dataset. Examples of variable-based criteria include demographic, socioeconomic, and spending data.
  • Point-based criteria—You can enrich your Suitability Analysis layer with data derived from proximity of points in a layer. When formatting point-based criteria, you define the relationship between the Suitability Analysis layer and points as positively or negatively impacting your success. Examples of point-based criteria include competitor locations, which may negatively impact candidates, or customers, likely having a positive impact on candidates if nearby.

    Point-based criteria requires you to define the criteria type in one of three ways:

    • Count—Returns the total points that fall within each of the Suitability Analysis layer candidate areas.
    • Weight–Aggregates and returns the total of a numeric field value, such as sales, falling within each Suitability Analysis layer candidate area.
    • Minimal Distance—Returns the distance of the closest point to each of the Suitability Analysis layer candidate areas based on Distance type and Measure Units that you select.
  • Field-based criteria—You can select and create criteria from existing fields in the Suitability Analysis layer attribute table. Examples of field-based criteria include square footage, available parking spaces, and existence of important amenities.

Define your sites

The candidate sites to be compared, scored, and ranked are defined with the Make Suitability Analysis Layer geoprocessing tool.

Adding criteria

Criteria is added using the Add Field Based Suitability Criteria, Add Variable Based Suitability Criteria, and Add Point Based Suitability Criteria geoprocessing tools.

These tools can be accessed from the Suitability Analysis toolset or from the Suitability tab. To access them from the tab, click Add Criteria Add criteria in the Criteria group.

Once criteria have been added to your Suitability Analysis layer, their properties must be set. This process involves tailoring each criterion to your specifications.

Setting criteria properties

There are two ways to begin setting criteria properties:

  • Using the Set Criteria Properties geoprocessing tool in the Suitability Analysis toolset.

    This approach is effective for use in models and scripts.

  • Accessing Suitability Analysis from the tab:
    • Click Suitability Criteria Suitability Criteria in the Criteria group, to review criteria variables, weights, and Additional Options.
    • Click Reset Weights Reset Weights in the Criteria group, to set the criteria weights to their original setting.
    • Click Attribute Table Attribute Table in the Criteria group, to review results returned in the Suitability Analysis layer.

Once criteria properties have been set, the next step is to calculate a suitability score.

Calculate a suitability score

Suitability scores are calculated by comparing criteria across all candidate sites. Each criterion receives a score and weighted score, which are returned as new attributes. A final score is also returned. It summarizes individual weighted scores into an overall ranking.

A suitability score can be returned from either the Calculate Suitability Score geoprocessing tool, or you can click Calculate Score Calculate score in the Suitability Score group.

The Suitability Score tab includes an Auto Calculate check box. If checked, a score is automatically calculated anytime criteria parameter settings change.

Understand your results

A suitability score is returned in three places:

  • Suitability Analysis layer polygons are shaded in the map, illustrating score rankings.
    Ranked sites on a map
  • A Suitability Analysis layer in the Contents pane is updated to return hierarchical shading that coincides with the map results, along with representative values.
    Criteria scores symbology
  • Results are also returned in the Suitability Analysis layer attribute table. Scores for individual criterion as well as the overall scores are returned as new fields.
    Final score in attribute table

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