Swiss-Army-knife Tool in GIS | GIS basics course

If there is a single tool that you would want to learn in GIS basics that would be the Spatial Join tool. Why is it so? There are many problems in GIS that this mysterious tool can solve only if you know how to use it properly. It is capable of solving almost all sorts of common GIS problems.

People in my office call me the spatial join guy, because whenever someone comes to our office and asks for help with a GIS problem, ammm…!! I would say you can probably do that with the Spatial Join Tool.

Nick Santos Professor and Instructor at UC Davis

This tool basically joins two tables or attributes together when there is a common field (primary or secondary keys) among them and as a result, all the attributes are joined to a single row with amazing speed. In other words, it takes data or records from one data table to another data table based on some relationships. That relationship can be spatial or it can be within the attributes (e.g. foreign key matching to primary key). It is similar to what a select-by-location tool does. This tool appends the information and attributes with one another.

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You can find this tool in the Arcmap Toolbox > Analysis tools > Overlay (It is available in Arcmap and also in QGIS)

There are two inputs in the spatial join tool, these are Target Features and Join Features. The Target features will receive the attributes and the Join features are the providing features. In GIS if you learn this tool properly, most of your GIS basics problems will go away.

Click for another blog that discusses the top places to become a GIS analyst for free

If you sign up on Coursera for the course you will find that there is a lot more to learn about this tool. Especially about the final assignment which you will get after the 4th week.

A complete lecture about the Spatial Analyst tool can be found here by Nick Santos from the University of California

If you want to learn this tool from me live, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

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