I want to create a viewshed around a LineFeature. The problem is, I have no observer points. I would like to create them with a gap of 10m around the line feature. The LineFeature should be 1m over the terrain model and the observer points should have a height of 1.5m. The height of the woods around the Linesegment are estimated with 20m, which hinders the view of the objects that lay behind it. Ultimately I would like to calculate the total surface around the lineFeature from where at least a part of the Line is visible. Anybody knows a away how I should approach that task?

1 Answer 1


I suggest you use the line feature as the "observer" input for the Viewshed tool. I think this is a simpler method than trying to generate points 10m offset from the line feature and then use Viewshed on that set of points. If an observer can see part of the line, then that point on the line can see the observer, and so we can use them interchangeably.

The "standard" Viewshed outputs a binary raster, composed of visible (1) and not-visible (0) values. However, ArcMap's Viewshed is pretty flexible, and will accept a line feature as the "observer". In this scenario, the resulting visibility raster provides a count of how many points along the line can see each cell. If your line is 10 observation points* long, for example, the raster values would range from 0 (no points-on-line can see that cell) to 10 (all points-on-line can see that cell).

* I'm fairly sure that the number of points it generates along the line depends on the DEM resolution; for example, if you've got a 100m line and a raster with 10m cells, your line will be analyzed as 10 points.

Since you want to include height of your points of interest, you will need to include OFFSETA and OFFSETB information in the attribute table. OFFSETA is the height of the observer (the line, 1m), and OFFSETB is the height added to the "target" cell (1.5m) during analysis.

To account for visibility interference from vegetation, you will need either:

  1. a DSM (digital surface model, includes elevation values of non-terrain features such as trees);
  2. a DEM (digital elevation model, bare earth terrain), add 20m to account for tree height.

The final challenge is looking only at points 10m away from your line. MappaGnosis's suggestion of using RADIUS1 and/or RADIUS2 will limit the Viewshed analysis to only those raster cells near your line (and not, say, points a mile away that you really don't care about which are only going to increase the tool's execution time).

You could also try creating a 10m buffer around your line, clipping the Viewshed results to that polygon, and looking at the values in the clipped raster.

  • Hah! - you just beat me to it +1. One missing piece of the puzzle the OP asked for was to have a gap of 10m from the line. So also add the field RADIUS1 (set to 10) along with OFFSETA and OFFSETB. Sep 2, 2014 at 11:46
  • Thanks for your quick answer. But how can I use the Observer Points tool if I have now PointFeature? how can i see the points if they where created after using viewshed? the linefeature is 4250m long by the way
    – Daniel
    Sep 2, 2014 at 12:03
  • @MappaGnosis I'm curious how the RADIUS would work when used with a line feature as the input (I've never done it) -- would it make a radius around each of the points-on-line or more of a buffer around the whole line?
    – Erica
    Sep 2, 2014 at 12:06
  • @Daniel Do you need to know which points can see the line (which is what Observer Points is good for), or only how many (which is what a cumulative Viewshed is good for)? If you do have points around your line, then you can use Extract Values to Points to find the visibility of any number of points (whereas Observer Points is limited to 16).
    – Erica
    Sep 2, 2014 at 12:13
  • 2
    There are a few ways to go about that. Some ideas are in this question (gis.stackexchange.com/questions/13289/…); you could Extract Values to Points (if you have defined locations) and sort the points to find the most visible; you could make a 10m buffer, clip the Viewshed result, and convert that final raster to points and sort to find the most visible.
    – Erica
    Sep 2, 2014 at 12:44

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