i have calculated the distance of certain houses from public parks using both Network analysis service areas and network analysis.

However each method provides a different distance. Would this be expected? or should they be the same as they are both calculated along the road/path networks. The Network analysis has given shortest route, could it be that the service area wouldnt have included that short route?!!


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    Welcome to GIS Stack Exchange! What software products, extensions and versions did you use? It sounds like ArcGIS but it is wise to always say in your question (and I recommend also including as tags).
    – PolyGeo
    Commented May 1, 2013 at 12:13

1 Answer 1


Note: I'm assuming you are using the built-in StreetMap North America dataset that comes with ArcGIS to perform your network analyses.

There are two factors that may be influencing your service areas created with Network Analyst: hierarchical analysis and polygon type.

  • Hierarchical analysis is a heuristic method for solving drive time by favoring travel on larger roads (e.g. highways) over small roads (e.g. local streets). Network Analyst can compute service areas more quickly when using a Hierarchical analysis, but it is less exhaustive than a non-hierarchical analysis. The About network analysis with hierarchy help page has more info. Although hierarchical analysis is performed by default, you can disable it: right click your service areas layer in the table of contents, go to "Layer Properties", then to "Analysis Settings" tab, then toggle "Use Hierarchy" (see below).

Analysis settings tab

  • Polygon Type is a setting that specifies how detailed the resulting service area polygons should be. By default, "generalized" polygons are created where enclaves of unreachable territory are iteratively filled in. By changing the polygon type, "detailed" polygons can be created that perform no filling, but require significantly more processing time. To modify this setting, right click your service areas layer in the table of contents, go to "Layer Properties", then to "Polygon Generation" tab, then toggle "Use Hierarchy" (see below).

Polygon generation tab

Note that when performing a hierarchical analysis, you must use generalized polygons. In a non-hierarchical analysis, you can use either generalized or detailed polygons.

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