Linear Infrastructure modelling with ArcGIS

World Wide Fund for Nature – WWF choose Compass Informatics to model the impact of proposed infrastructure projects globally.

With thousands of projects being proposed as part of the Belt and Road initiative (BRI), the WWF sought assistance in the development of a model to determine the likely routes these projects would take considering asset class, elevation, slope, terrain and existing infrastructure. The model was to be submitted as an ESRI file geodatabase with estimated routes of up to 2000 linear (road, rail, pipeline) projects.

The Challenge

The Belt and Road Initiative is unprecedented in scale and is referred to as a “21st-century silk road” consisting of a “belt” of overland corridors from Southeast Asia into Europe and maritime “road” shipping lanes. The initiative is set to cost over $1tn across 71 countries in Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa. With little information available regarding the environmental impact of the initiative, the WFF, using coordinates for the origin and destination of the projects, sought to model the likely trajectory of these projects in order to assess areas of a particular risk.

The Solution

Compass Informatics approached the challenge in four stages:

  • Stage1: Data Collection, Collation and criteria evaluation,
  • Stage2: Reclassification
  • Stage3: Implementing the multi-criteria analysis
  • Stage4: Route Selection and Evaluation

The first stage of the analysis was to collate a combination of data provided by the WWF and open sources’. Next, the “business rules” of the model were defined, identifying which data sets would be the most important to generate useful insights.
To provide consistency across multiple datasets, data was then formatted into a common data type (raster), important elements of each dataset was then reclassified, prioritised, and overlaid in the GIS decision support system.
The model could then be implemented to provide a selection of possible routes for each project for evaluation.


‘Compass proved to be highly efficient and technically robust. Delivering quickly a well thought out and neatly annotated model aligned to our brief.’

Head of Conservation Intelligence – World Wildlife Fund - Linear Infrastructure modelling with ArcGIS