How to Generate a Driving Radius Based on Travel Time

How to generate a driving radius

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

As a business or organization owner, you will likely come across the need for a driving radius map. These maps become crucial in measuring the time and distance of locations from a central point. In many cases, business owners will use solutions for location intelligence purposes. Consider these real-world examples for perspective.

First, when a business is selecting a new physical location. A driving radius map becomes a powerful tool in determining a physical location, so employees do not need to make a significant commute to work each day. Another example is managing logistics since distribution centers in optimal locations can reduce costs. Still, other examples become apparent in sales territory planning.

It becomes clear that a driving radius map is a crucial component of many business endeavors. However, despite its widespread utility, few know how to create a driving radius map. Therefore, to support these users, we outline some of the key steps to follow below.

Looking At The Specifics

A driving radius map works by leveraging GIS software to determine how long it takes to travel between two locations or, in other words, the distance between two places. For enhanced accuracy, the radius map tools will look at factors including live traffic data, the time of day, speed limits, construction, and other possible obstructions to generate a map.

Different mapping programs will allow users to plot the maps by shape based on time or area. An example might be a business seeking out its competitors’ locations within a given radius from their location. An area tool, often a circle, will likely be used in this case.

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Begin Map Building

Users can easily follow a few simple steps to build their driving radius map. We can outline these steps as follows.

Select Your Software

The first step in generating a driving radius map is picking the tool you wish to use. There are many mapping tools on the market, some of which have freemium models that allow users to use their product on a limited basis, while others require a credit card payment to begin. It becomes crucial for users to assess the cost of their offering and how it will align with their goals while also considering the presence of relevant features.

Upload Data Points

Users can begin populating the solution with their associated data points with the tool they chose in the previous step. Although tools may differ, users will likely need to choose between uploading an existing spreadsheet/Google Sheet, copying and pasting their data from another source or typing the information in manually.

Generate Your Map

Since users have the luxury of using a mapping tool, the following steps are simple. Users can select the “create” button, automatically producing a map for review. The mapping tool will plot all relevant points onto an interactive map using the user’s data in the previous step. Since many of the more popular tools available today are cloud-based, users will have the luxury of being able to log in and view their creations from anywhere.

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Locate Radius Tool

With the outline of your map plotted, users will need to select the radius tool to unlock more specific functionality. Again, these tools may exist differently on each platform. However, the page will likely display the button alongside other prominent features.

After selecting the tool, users must decide on the type of radius they want to create. The choice will likely be between a distance radius if users want to create a proximity circle from a central location or a drive time polygon.

Determining The Radius

The most important part of the process is creating the radius itself. Map creators will receive a prompt to enter the point of their central location and the distance they would like their map to extend. Keep in mind that this distance might be in either miles or kilometers. Alternatively, the map may be based on drive time and display values in hours or minutes.

Make It Your Own

Last but not least, users can make their creations their own. Often, tools will allow users to adjust colors, custom labels, or pop-ups. At this step, map creators may decide to identify specific locations where they want to add additional information directly to their map.

Saving To The Cloud

Since most of the tools on the market today are cloud-based, users will need to ensure they are saving the resulting product so they may later access it anywhere at any time. Then, when users are ready, they will be given the option to share, print, embed, or display their maps as they see fit.


It is easier for end-users to create a driving radius map with modern tools. Without much effort, businesses and organizations can determine how far it is to travel from point to point on a map.