Use ArcView Spatial Analyst 2 with ModelBuilder to Examine Alternatives

A GIS model is a set of instructions for combining spatial elements to yield maps and reports (see "Saving the Salton Sea"). Models are to GIS users what blueprints are to carpenters, patterns to tailors, and recipes to cooks. The inputs are selected by the user, as are the processes performed on them and the sequence of processing. Soil scientists use GIS models to predict erosion. Police departments use models to analyze crime and schedule patrols. Planners use models to test the potential tax revenues of various zoning proposals. Public works departments use models to estimate annual street repair costs. Emergency services use models to route vehicles. Biologists use models to estimate wildlife populations. The list of GIS model users is long and varied.

A pipeline construction suitability model for the Salton Sea
A pipeline construction suitability model for the Salton Sea.

ModelBuilder is a set of modeling tools in the ArcView Spatial Analyst 2 extension to ArcView GIS. With ModelBuilder, you create a flow diagram that shows input data, processing, and output data for the model. Icons represent the data and processes. Lines connecting the icons indicate the sequence of processing. But the flow diagram is not just a graphic; it references real data and GIS processes. It contains all the properties needed to run the model and create an output map. The data and the output map are stored in ArcView GIS. You can run all or part of the model, and you can adjust the inputs, processes, and outputs as needed.

ModelBuilder allows landscape architects to concentrate on their specialty instead of spending a lot of time learning how to run GIS software. GIS models can be shared with other professionals on the design team, reviewing agencies, design review committees, lending institutions, and community groups. The model is graphical and it is easier to explain to clients. Because it is so effortless to refine your model, it is likely that you will examine several alternatives. You can also publish standard models on the Web to share them with your entire industry.

For more information about ArcView Spatial Analyst 2 with ModelBuilder, call Esri at 1-800-447-9778 or visit To purchase ArcView Spatial Analyst, contact your local reseller, call Esri at 1-800-447-9778, or call your Esri regional office. Outside the United States, please contact your local Esri distributor.

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