I have two separate datasets ('Wards' and 'Census Output Areas'), whose boundaries don't quite match up (see below - wards in red, COAs in grey).


Is there a way of automatically adjusting the Ward boundaries so that they align with the Census Output Areas? I know that I could use the 'Align Edge Tool' on the Topology toolbar to fix individual errors, but it would take a long time to do them all. After reading about topology rules (here), I think the most appropriate rule is 'area boundary must be covered by boundary of', but I'm not quite sure how I would use it and it seems there are no fixes for this anyway.. Any suggestions?

2 Answers 2


Topology tools may not be necessary in your case. I would transfer the Wards attribute (feature to points, then spatial join) to the census polygon, then dissolve based on the Wards unique identifier. This will yield a new feature class with the attributes of Ward and the boundaries of the Census.

  • Brilliant! I hadn't thought of that - thanks very much
    – user32476
    Jan 8, 2016 at 11:35
  • If I'm not mistaken, that suggestion has flipped the wards and COAs. Since the COAs are nested within the wards, you would need to convert the COAs to points; otherwise, the ward point would only join to one of its nested COAs. Maybe I'm missing something.
    – Tom
    Jan 8, 2016 at 15:47
  • exactly: convert coa to point, spatial join points with wards, table join coa with the points attribute, dissolve.
    – radouxju
    Jan 8, 2016 at 20:07

Take a look at this tutorial: http://webhelp.esri.com/arcgisdesktop/9.3/tutorials/editor/Editor_Ex7_1.htm

It explains how to create a topology and set topology rules. Be aware that both features needs to be stored in a GeoDatabase.

  • The tutorial is useful, but I'm still not sure how to use it for this particular case. I've resolved it now by doing a spatial join instead!
    – user32476
    Jan 8, 2016 at 11:37

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