R-ArcGIS Bridge – Improving methods of statistical analysis in ArcGIS

The R-ArcGIS Bridge is a little-known secret to improving your methods of geostatistical analysis. By integrating ArcGIS and R you can have the best of both geospatial and statistical platforms. With the R-ArcGIS Bridge you and I can now perform and visualise comprehensive statistical analysis directly in ArcGIS Desktop.


Why would you use R?

R is a powerful platform for solving big data science problems. R is both an open source language and programming environment, widely used for statistical analysis. R offers an online repository with 6,400 statistical problem-solving packages.

The R-ArcGIS Bridge is a way to load your spatial data into R, or, create custom Geoprocessing Tools in ArcGIS that leverage the capabilities of R. The Bridge can be directly connected to either ArcGIS Pro (version 1.1+) or ArcMap (10.3.1+), and R (3.1+) or RStudio. The R-ArcGIS Bridge can then be used with pre-existing tools written in R, without the need to learn any code!

There are several uses of R-ArcGIS Bridge:

  • Use R functions to read and write spatial data
  • Convert between data types
  • Solve complex geostatistical problems
  • Write, configure, and modify an R script to be executed from a Geoprocessing tool
  • Share an R script with others as a toolbox


How do I get started?

To understand the improved capabilities of ArcGIS using the R-ArcGIS bridge, visit Expanding Functionality with the R-ArcGIS Bridge from the 2017 Esri Developer Summit.

To feel the power of the R-ArcGIS bridge yourself, run through the free lesson based on crime data analysis in San Francisco: Analyze Crime Using Statistics and the R-ArcGIS Bridge.

You may also wish to visit our eLearning web courses for tutorials on the integration of R into ArcGIS with the R-ArcGIS Bridge:


Begin your installation

For those looking to get started, ensure you have installed both R (version 3.1 +) and ArcGIS Pro (1.1+) or ArcMap (10.3.1+), then visit GitHub to download the Bridge.

The clip below shows how to download, install, and verify proper installation of the bridge:

Once you have the bridge installed, test out its capabilities using the pre-scripted exercises in GitHub to run a Cluster Analysis, a SemiParametric Regression, and a Factor Analysis in ArcGIS.


R you a Developer?

For the R-experienced, I highly recommend the video: Getting Data Science with R and ArcGIS, to explore how the bridge works with each program, including: how to create a connection in R, how to import an R script into ArcGIS, and finally, how to visualise the results.

To develop a new ArcGIS tool using R, follow the package vignette instructions. Additional resources can be found in the arcgisbinding package documentation and in the R community on GeoNet or Stack Overflow. You may wish to also browse Esri’s Open Data for content, and Open Source to explore current projects.


The R-ArcGIS Bridge is a new pathway to more advanced geostatistical analysis in ArcGIS. The ability to combine the visualisation and spatial analytical power of ArcGIS with the capabilities of R is incredibly useful for solving big data science problems, now and into the future.

Good luck bridging!


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