I'm performing a cost distance route selection analysis for a type of linear infrastructure in Australia. The process I will use will be similar to this ESRI tutorial. The route will traverse several states and therefore several UTM zones. Normally, when calculating long distances like this in Australia, I would use the Geoscience Australia Lambert projection. Indeed, I began converting my data to this projection in order to begin calculating things like slope (which I also resampled to a lower resolution to match Land Use).

I'm now beginning to wonder if I am using the correct coordinate system for the route analysis. When dealing with Cost Distances, I'm assuming this type of coordinate system is appropriate. However, I'll be rasterising many polygons and I wonder if I should be using an Equal Area projection such as Australia Albers.

In short, what type of coordinate system is appropriate for performing a cost distance route analysis?

  • You may be wandering into opinion-based territory. Equal area projections can be used for continuous modelling, but suffer in distance measurement. You might need to add a raster with error compensation to the cost surface.
    – Vince
    Jan 18, 2017 at 4:49
  • Yes, but in my question I stated that I'll be rasterising polygons, would it be better to use equal area for this or is it ok to use the lambert projection? I don't see how this is opinion-based even if the answer is "either".
    – Fezter
    Jan 18, 2017 at 5:00
  • There are many potential answers, with no way to judge the best one, short of doing them all and comparing the results. That makes this either opinion-based or too broad. Either way, it's more a discussion topic than an answer one.
    – Vince
    Jan 18, 2017 at 11:55

1 Answer 1


Have you considered Australian Map Grid (AMG84)? They say:

Coordinates on the AMG are derived from a Universal Transverse Mercator projection of latitudes and longitudes on the Australian Geodetic Datum (AGD), Parameters used for the AMG shown below.

Since you are dealing with distances, what about anequidistant projection?

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