Is there a way to calculate the total distance covered by thousands of points in a shapefile in ArcMap 10.4?

I am trying to apply a buffer for each point, then dissolve and find the centerline of each dissolved polygon per How to convert points to lines?. Then find the distances of the lines. But I'm getting a Distance Value required error message:

enter image description here

I have also tried this, but I don't have the equivalent fields for ROUTE1 or MEASURE, so I can't get it to run.

  • Could you provide an example of your desired end-product?
    – Aaron
    Commented Jan 30, 2019 at 21:35
  • I measured them with the measuring tool and the sum total distance of all the lineations is about 75 miles. That's all I need - just want to find an automated way to do that. I was thinking if I made them into lines, I could get the total distance by summing the lengths of all the lines..
    – Regulus
    Commented Jan 30, 2019 at 23:49
  • 1
    Search for minimum spanning tree tool for ArcGis, note it work on selection.
    – FelixIP
    Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 0:25
  • I see a route field in the Dissolve Field(s) list ... is it populated with a value that shows points that should not be used in the same polyline? Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 23:39
  • That is merely an identification number for the route that was driven by the Lidar mobile.
    – Regulus
    Commented Feb 2, 2019 at 17:37

2 Answers 2


Can you type a value into the Distance field, or will it not let you? Are the points that are supposed to be connected spaced out mostly uniformly, and do you know that distance? You could use just over half that inter-point distance (50.1%) to set the distance for the buffer, to keep it as small as possible while still making the buffer overlap. From your picture, it looks like most of the points are aligned vertically and horizontally, but if you have any diagonally connected points, you might consider a larger buffer distance than that.

If distance is mostly uniform, you also could multiply the number of points times the distance between them to get the distance covered. This would be a slight overestimate, since every endpoint technically should not count toward the total, but it's a fast and painless way to get a rough answer. I'm not sure how much precision you need.

  • The points are not uniformly spaced. Some are ~100 meters from the next point and others have points a few meters away on either side. I entered a distance of 8' into the Distance field in the Buffer tool. I tried Dissove All and Dissolve None and both times it executed but, did not create a feature class in the output folder I specified and no buffer was added to the map. So I don't know what's going on there.
    – Regulus
    Commented Feb 2, 2019 at 18:58

If you have access to the Spatial Analyst extension, you could try:

  1. Euclidean Distance on your points, set an appropriate “max distance” if desired. http://desktop.arcgis.com/en/arcmap/10.3/tools/spatial-analyst-toolbox/euclidean-distance.htm

  2. Use the “Con” tool or “Raster Calculator” to mask appropriate zones. I.e. Con(EucDistance <= 125, 1)

  3. Use the “Thin” tool to skeletonize these zones. http://desktop.arcgis.com/en/arcmap/10.3/tools/spatial-analyst-toolbox/thin.htm

  4. Convert raster to polyline if necessary.

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