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An overview of linear referencing

Release 9.2
Last modified September 25, 2007
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Many organizations collect data about linear features as a point location along the line as an alternative to expressing the location using an xy coordinate.

What is linear referencing?

Linear referencing is the method of storing geographic locations by using relative positions along a measured linear feature. Distance measures are used to locate events along the line:

Locating a point event and a line event by measures along a line

Measurements along features are used to locate point events and line events using a number of conventions. Here are some common examples.

A point can be located along the line in the graph below:

Linear referencing uses measures along line features to locate events

Line features can be referenced in a few ways. In this example above:

Why use linear referencing?

Linear referencing is used for many reasons. Two primary reasons include:

What is dynamic segmentation?

Dynamic segmentation is the process of computing the map locations of events stored and managed in an event table using a linear referencing measurement system and displaying them on a map. The term "dynamic segmentation" is derived from the concept that line features need not be split (i.e.; "segmented") each time an attribute value changes -- you can "dynamically" locate the segment.

Using dynamic segmentation, multiple sets of attributes can be associated with any portion of an existing linear feature independently of where it begins or ends. These attributes can be displayed, queried, edited, and analyzed without affecting the underlying linear feature's geometry.

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