I am quite new to GIS and have the following question.

I have these two datasets - Polygon of around 100 administrative units of my city. - Point data of a feature of interest.

I want to add a field to the attribute table of the polygon dataset, including a count value of how many point features are within each administrative unit.

Which tool in ArcGIS is appropriate for this?

The figure illustrates my problem, the numbers should then be in the attribute table of the polygon dataset. enter image description here

2 Answers 2


You should use Spatial Join GP tool for this. A new field called Join_Count will be created indicating the number of points within each polygon.

This tool is available in all ArcGIS Desktop licenses.

  • The reason why I am not so happy with the Spatial Join is, that, as far as I am aware, all the fields of the point feature class are also passed to the attribute table of the polygon feature, and as I have to do this for many point feature classes, it gets a bit overloaded. And, the field I am interested in, is always named Join_Count...
    – the_chimp
    Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 7:13
  • I hear you. You can define what fields will be transferred to the output polygon feature class by configuring the Field Map of Join Features part of the tool. There you can delete the fields you don't need. You will be left with Join_Count and Target_FID. In case you have many feature classes to go through a couple of Python code rows will do it in a loop + you can then delete the Target_FID field and even join the Join_Count value back to the source feature class if needed. Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 7:49

You could follow the steps suggested by @PolyGeo from this post:

Using count points in polygon tool in ModelBuilder?

Or alternatively, you could download and install Geospatial Modelling Environment (GME) which is a stand alone program (using dependencies from ArcGIS). It contains numerous tools including Count Points In Polygons which creates a new field in the attribute table containing the count value.

Note: GME is the replacement of the now discontinued HawthsTools .

  • 2
    Is there any particular point why should one deal with an external tool or build a model for this when there is a ready-to-use GP tool for that kind of task? :) Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 13:17
  • 1
    The GME sounds good - I think I will try that, thank you!
    – the_chimp
    Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 7:14
  • 1
    @AlexTereshenkov - More of a personal point than anything else. For the handful of times I used ArcGIS, I also used some of the tools from GME which I liked. But other than that, not much point =)
    – Joseph
    Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 10:17
  • @the_chimp - Most welcome buddy! I found it useful when I used it a while ago :)
    – Joseph
    Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 10:18

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