Edit neighborhoods

Neighborhood Explorer allows you to edit neighborhoods by removing neighbors, adding neighbors, and modifying the weight of existing neighbors. You can make edits based on your knowledge of the spatial relationships between features that will affect the composition of neighborhoods. The following are examples of when you may want to edit neighborhoods:

  • If the Conceptualization of Spatial Relationships parameter value is set to Contiguity Edges Only, islands will not have neighbors. However, domain expertise may suggest that an island is connected to the mainland by ferry or bridges.
  • Two locations are considered neighbors; however, they are separated by an impassable freeway and should not be considered neighbors.
To begin making manual edits to a neighborhood, you must first choose a conceptualization of spatial relationships and apply it to the dataset.

Learn more about configuring conceptualizations of spatial relationships

Edit a neighborhood

Each feature in a dataset has a neighborhood. A neighborhood refers to the features near a focal feature that exert influence on it. Neighborhoods can consist of no neighbors, all other features, or anything in between.

To edit a neighborhood, complete the following steps:

  1. Click the Select Focal Feature button Select Focal Feature to select the neighborhood of a feature.

    After you select a focal feature, the Edit Neighborhoods button Edit Neighborhoods becomes active.

  2. Click the Edit Neighborhoods button to open the editing toolbar and begin your editing session.

    Editing toolbar

Add neighbors

To add neighbors, complete the following steps:

  1. Click the Add Neighbor button Add on the editing toolbar.
  2. Select a feature to add it to the neighborhood of the selected focal feature.

    Once added, the neighbor is visualized on the map and shown as a record in the Neighborhood Explorer pane on the tab that displays the neighbors of the focal feature.

    Newly added neighbors inherit the weighting strategy specified by the Method parameter. If the Conceptualization of Spatial Relationships parameter is set to K Nearest Neighbors, Contiguity Edges Only, Contiguity Edges Corners, Fixed Distance, or Trimmed Delaunay Triangulation, the Method parameter value will be Binary and each neighbor will have a weight of 1. If the Conceptualization of Spatial Relationships parameter value is set to Inverse Distance, weights will be calculated using the inverse distance function.

Alter neighbor weights

To alter the weight of a neighbor, complete the following steps:

  1. Select a focal feature.
  2. Click the Edit Neighborhoods button Pencil.
  3. On the editing toolbar, click the Alter Neighbor button.

    The button becomes active.

  4. Select a feature in the neighborhood.

    This highlights the neighbor on the map and the row of the neighbor on the neighbors tab in the Neighborhood Explorer pane.

  5. Double-click the neighbor‘s cell in the Weight column to alter the weight.
  6. Press Enter to register the change in the table.

Remove neighbors

To remove neighbors, complete the following steps:

  1. Select a focal feature
  2. Click the Edit Neighborhoods button Pencil.
  3. Click the Remove Neighbor button Delete.

    The button becomes active.

  4. Select a neighbor to remove it from the neighborhood of the focal feature.

    Once a neighbor is removed, it is no longer visualized by the specified View Options parameter value and it is deleted from the neighbors table.

Save or discard edits

After you add, remove, or alter neighbors in the neighborhood of a focal feature, you can either save or discard those edits. To save the edits to the neighborhood, click the Commit button Check mark. Once you commit the edits, any new neighbors, removed neighbors, or altered weights are reflected in subsequent actions. To discard the edits, click the Discard button Delete. When you discard the edits, the changes are undone.   


Saving edits does not preserve them when the Neighborhood Explorer session is closed. To preserve edits, export them to a spatial weights matrix file (.swm).

Learn more about exporting spatial weights matrix files

Undo or redo changes

After changing the neighbors of a focal feature, you can undo a change. Click the Undo button Undo to undo the most recent change that is not committed. To redo a change that has been undone, click the Redo button Redo.


The neighbors identified based on the Neighborhood Type parameter value may not reflect reality. For example, two features can be identified as neighbors even if they are separated by a boundary such as a river, mountain range, or freeway. You may want to apply a post-processing constraint that prevents those features from being neighbors. The Barriers parameter allows you to remove neighbor connections based on barriers.

In the Advanced Configuration Options category, the Barriers parameter accepts one or more line or polygon feature classes. The features in the Barriers parameter value act as barriers that neighbor connections cannot cross. A neighbor connection is a line that connects two neighbor features. If neighbors are line or polygon features, the connection is drawn from the centroid of the line or polygon to the centroid of its neighbor. If the connection between two neighbors crosses a barrier feature, the neighbor connection is removed.


The application of barriers occurs as a postprocessing step. First, the identification of neighbors is based on the Neighborhood Type parameter value. Then the provided Barriers parameter is used to remove neighbor connections. If a barriers layer is provided, the Neighborhood Type parameter value will not be honored. For example, if the Neighborhood Type parameter value is K Nearest Neighbors and a Barriers parameter value is provided, every feature will not have K neighbors.

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