What Problem Does This Solve?
Analyze an area surrounding an object or point of interest.
When to Use This Pattern
Buffer is very common when doing proximity analysis to determine the relationship between an object and its related entities. Examples include marketers that analyze a suggested location to see potential customers or emergency response units that want to understand critical infrastructure around an incident like a fire.
What’s the Solution?
Let the user select a point and specify a buffer distance and unit (e.g. 100 feet). The application calculates the buffer area surrounding the point and displays it on the map.
Why Use This Pattern?
It is difficult and sometimes even misleading to rely on visual analysis on the map to identify relevant features. Calculating distances and buffers are standard GIS tools and using the generated buffer polygon can be used to further intersect and analyze other layers.
The buffer pattern is sometimes used to intersect other layers with relevant points in order to generate a list of features. Consider sorting this list by distance to the point of origin.
Today’s mapping applications render buffer areas as a semi-transparent circle which partially obstructs or at least makes it more difficult to read the area the user is most interested in. Consider rendering the buffer inverse to traditional wisdom by graying out the map and ‘cut out’ the area of the buffer instead.
Offer users a way to clear or remove the buffer.