Calculating the shortest distance between two points is a commonly cited use for GIS. Tools for this can be found in the Processing toolbox.

**The goal for this lesson:** learn to use Network analysis
algorithms.

You can find all the network analysis algorithms in the

menu. You can see that there are many tools available:Open the project `exercise_data/network_analysis/network.qgz`

, it contains
two layers:

- network_points
- network_lines

As you can see the network_lines layer has already a style that helps to understand the road network.

The shortest path tools provide ways to calculate either the shortest or the fastest path between two points of a network, given:

- start point and end point selected on the map
- start point selected on the map and end points taken from a point layer
- start points taken from a point layer and end point selected on the map

Let’s start.

The

allows you to calculate the shortest distance between two manually selected points on the map.In this example we will calculate the **shortest** (not fastest) path between two
points.

In the following image we choose these two points as starting and ending point for the analysis:

Open the Shortest path (point to point) algorithm

Select network_lines for Vector layer representing network

Let

`Shortest`

in the Path type to calculate parameterClick on the … button next to the Start point (x, y) and choose the location tagged with

`Starting Point`

in the picture. The menu is filled with the coordinates of the clicked point.Do the same thing but choosing the location tagged with

`Ending point`

for End point (x, y)Click on the Run button:

A new line layer is created representing the shortest path between the chosen points. Uncheck the network_lines layer to see the result better:

Let’s open the attribute table of the output layer. It contains three fields, representing the coordinates of the starting and ending points and the

**cost**.We chose

`Shortest`

as Path type to calculate, so the**cost**represent the**distance**, in layer units, between the two locations.In our case, the

*shortest*distance between the chosen points is around`1000`

meters:

Now that you know how to use the tool, feel free to change them and test other locations.

With the same data of the previous exercise, try to calculate the fastest path between the two points.

How much time do you need to go from the start to the end point?

Let’s explore some more options of the Network Analysis tools. In the previous
exercise we calculated the **fastest** route
between two points. As you can imagine, the time depends on the travel **speed**.

We will use the same layers and same starting and ending points of the previous exercises.

Open the Shortest path (point to point) algorithm

Fill the Input layer, Start point (x, y) and End point (x, y) as we did before

Choose

`Fastest`

as the Path type to calculateOpen the Advanced parameter menu

Change the Default speed (km/h) from the default

`50`

value to`4`

Click on Run

Once the algorithm is finished, close the dialog and open the attribute table of the output layer.

The cost field contains the value according to the speed parameter you have chosen. We can convert the cost field from hours with fractions to the more readable

*minutes*values.Open the field calculator by clicking on the icon and add the new field minutes by multiplying the cost field by 60:

That’s it! Now you know how many minutes it will take to get from one point to the other one.

The Network analysis toolbox has other interesting options. Looking at the following map:

we would like to know the **fastest** route considering the **speed limits** of
each road (the labels represent the speed limits in km/h). The shortest path
without considering speed limits would of course be the purple path. But in that
road the speed limit is 20 km/h, while in the green road you can go at 100 km/h!

As we did in the first exercise, we will use the

and we will manually choose the start and end points.Open the

algorithmSelect network_lines for the Vector layer representing network parameter

Choose

`Fastest`

as the Path type to calculateClick on the … button next to the Start point (x, y) and choose the location tagged with

`Start Point`

in the picture. The menu is filled with the coordinates of the clicked point.Do the same thing but choosing the location tagged with

`End point`

for End point (x, y)Open the Advanced parameters menu

Choose the

`speed`

field as the Speed Field parameter. With this option the algorithm will take into account the speed values for each road.Click on the Run button

Turn off the network_lines layer to better see the result

As you can see the fastest route does not correspond to the shortest one.

The

algorithm can answer the question: given a point layer, what are all the reachable areas given a distance or a time value?Note

The

is the same algorithm but, it allows you to manually choose the point on the map.Given a distance of `250`

meters we want to know how far we can go on the
network from each point of the network_points layer.

Uncheck all the layers except network_points

Open the

algorithmChoose network_lines for Vector layer representing network

Choose network_points for Vector layer with start points

Choose

`Shortest`

in Path type to calculateEnter

`250`

in the Travel cost parameterClick on Run and then close the dialog

The output layer represents the maximum path you can reach from the point features given a distance of 250 meters:

Cool isn’t it?

Now you know how to use Network analysis algorithm to solve shortest-fastest path problems.

We are now ready to perform some spatial statistic on vector layer data. Let’s go!

Next you’ll see how to run spatial statistics algorithms on vector datasets.