I am having trouble figuring out how to convert the units from the results of my NEAR calculations.

I want to convert them to meters or kilometers, but cannot figure out how to do so...

[This is a screenshot of my workspace][1]:

Explanation: The Linear Units for all of my shapefiles and Data Frame are "Meters" so I am not sure why it is not calculating in meters? The real distance (as measured from Google Maps) in the highlighted row should be about 500 meters, but it is only returning 28?

  • 1
    You have two issues: the first is that Near is calculating the distance from a point to a polygon, not to the polygon's center; the second is that you are using a Mercator projection, whose metric distortion is high in most locations. Regardless, 28 meters looks like the right order of magnitude.
    – whuber
    Commented Aug 6, 2013 at 18:16

1 Answer 1


It is to the edge of the polygon not the center

If you want to the center convert the polygons to centroids (inside) and run the near as point to point.

  • 3
    Ray, to expand on this answer since its correct, you will also want to consider why you would want to measure the distance from the centre of the polygon to a particular point. In some cases, the distance from the polygon perimeter/edge to the point would be more useful, and other times, their might be particular points within a polygon that would be more "right" to use (population centres, etc) as the "centroid" to calculate distance from. Commented Aug 7, 2013 at 1:29

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