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Distance Calculators: How They Work and How to Use Them

Distance calculators are tools for calculating the distance in between two or more points on the map. You can decide on the distance unit you want to use, whether kilometers, meters or miles. In most cases, you can simply type in the names of the places whose distance you’re interested in, and then click a button to display results. As well, you can use postcodes and addresses.

How Distance Calculators Work

As you click the search button, a search will be run to locate the place you are referring to. First, an internal list of common locations will be searched. If you get no match, the search will now be made with the use of Google Maps API GlocalSearch. If also unsuccessful, you will be asked to pinpoint the location of the place by clicking on the map. This will let you see the distance between the two points, and the location will be entered into the internal database so that it will be found the next time someone searches for it.
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As soon as a result is returned, you can get the URL so you can use it as a permanent link back to the page for your own reference, or to give it to other people who may need it.
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How Distance Is Determined

The distance between any two points is defined as the shortest separation in between them, where the two are closest to each other. This logic is utilized by any distance-calculating geoprocessing tool.

If input data is in an equidistance projected coordinate system, distance measurements can be most accurate. Though distance calculations can be done anytime regardless of coordinate system, the results may lack accuracy or may even be meaningless when the data is in a geographic coordinate system or an incorrectly chosen projected coordinate system.

Significant Considerations

Several features can be equally closest to another feature. In this case, any of the equally closest features will be picked randomly as the closest. If one feature contains or is contained in another feature, their is zero. A distance of zero is calculated in a scenario where there is at least one x,y coordinate shared between them.

Hence, with two features intersecting, overlapping, crossing, or touching, distance is zero. Always, distance is calculated to the outer edges of a polygon feature, and not to the center. As indicated earlier, if a feature is entirely inside a polygon, their distance is zero. Whichever of two features (of any kind) is being measured to and from, their distance is always the same.

Basic Distance-finding Operations

Determining distance relies on the geometry type of the features, and also on other factors such as coordinate system. But there are three basic rules that dictate how distance is calculated. First, the distance that lies between two points is the straight line linking the points. Second, distance from a point to a line is either the closest or the perpendicular vertex. Finally, determining the distance between polylines are segment vertices.