What is the difference between "Heat Map Analysis" and "Hot Spot Analysis"?

Are we perhaps using hot spot analysis to get the required relations between features, and then using the results as an input for a heat map?

  • 2
    It depends on what you mean by a "heat map." Most people in GIS seem to use this term differently than described, for instance, in the Wikipedia article. Therefore there may be no such thing as a conventional agreement on what "heat map analysis" even is.
    – whuber
    Commented Sep 9, 2013 at 20:19
  • I have a layer having information about different languages spoken in North America and I want to show in which regions there are more population speaking English using Heat Map.
    – KDot1254
    Commented Sep 9, 2013 at 22:25
  • 1
    It sounds like you want a choropleth map.
    – whuber
    Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 1:07

2 Answers 2


A good article from ESRI called "Extending your map with spatial analysis" explains and give examples of both.

Another good article, "Heat Maps in GIS", found over on GIS Lounge, shows that these terms can sometimes be used interchangeably.

I think the first paragraph of the article gives a great explanation of the term(s):

Heat mapping, from a geographic perspective, is a method of showing the geographic clustering of a phenomenon. Also known as hot spot mapping, heat maps show locations of higher densities of geographic entities. The ‘heat’ in the term refers to the concentration of the geographic entity within any given spot, not to be confused with heat mapping that refers to the mapping of actual temperatures on the earth’s surface. Heat mapping is a way of geographically visualizing locations so that patterns of higher than average occurrence of things likes crime activity, traffic accidents, or store locations can emerge.

  • 1
    The characterization of "show concentrations and patterns" is too broad to be useful. Do you have a citation for the "interchangeable" use of the terms?
    – whuber
    Commented Sep 9, 2013 at 22:01

This article explains the difference very vividly:

Heat Map vs. Hot Spot Map

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