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Definition: spatial analysis

(Data West Research Agency definition: see GIS glossary.) Analytical techniques to determine the spatial distribution of a variable, the relationship between the spatial distribution of variables, and the association of the variables of an area. Spatial analysis is often referred to as modeling. It refers to the analysis of phenomena distributed in space and having physical dimensions (the location of, proximity to, or orientation of objects with respect to one another; relating to an area of a map as in spatial information and spatial analysis; referenced or relating to a specific location on the Earth's surface).

Spatial analysis is the process of extracting or creating new information about a set of geographic features to perform routine examination, assessment, evaluation, analysis or modeling of data in a geographic area based on pre-established and computerized criteria and standards. Spatial analysis is a process of modeling, examining, and interpreting model results useful for evaluating suitability and capability, for estimating and predicting, and for interpreting and understanding.

In GIS, there are four traditional types of spatial analysis: spatial overlay and contiguity analysis, surface analysis, linear analysis, and raster analysis. It includes such GIS functions as topological overlay, buffer generation, and spatial or network modeling. Abbreviated SA.