Trying to calculate the distance between two cities might seem simple enough, but there are several ways to calculate the distance. For example, users may want to know the straight-line distance between two locations, GPS coordinates, great circle distance, or driving time and distance. Each of these calculations varies slightly as they focus on different components on the map. To get started, here are a few popular methods of measuring the distance between two cities:
Straight Line Distance
This measurement describes the distance between any two points on a map without factoring in any obstructions or obstacles. Typically, this distance is referred to as the “line of sight” length. When determining the straight-line distance between two locations, the user draws a line between the two points. As this tactic doesn’t account for bodies of water, mountains, or other impassable areas, the measurement is often much shorter than the distance required to travel from one spot to another.
A GPS device can calculate the distance between two cities, triangulating the position from satellites. The device can establish the approximate distance between two points from this signal. Unfortunately, accuracy can be affected by interference from trees, landscapes, or buildings.
Great Circle Distance
The great circle measurement is the shortest distance between any two points on a sphere. Individuals often use this method when determining the distance between two locations, as it offers the most accurate measurement. This calculation also determines driving directions, as it connects the driver with the shortest route between two points. It’s essential to note that the great circle distance isn’t the same as the straight-line distance. The straight-line distance will find the shortest route between two points, regardless of the roads connecting them.
Driving Time and Distance
The driving time and distance are two measurements specifically designed for those wanting an approximate duration and length of a journey. Typically, the drive time will take longer than the drive distance, especially with traffic delays and other factors impacting travel time. When looking for the driving distance between two addresses consider driving distance for directions. These measurements will use GPS and satellites to determine the best route possible from one city to the next, along with estimated delays from construction, accidents, and traffic.
Tools Available to Make these Measurements
An automated mapping tool is the best way to receive an accurate measurement. Google maps and third-party mapping software can offer distance calculations when entering two points on a map. All measurements using a program will typically include a distance (miles or kilometers) and time (minutes and hours) to help people make informed decisions.
Measuring the distance between two cities will start with a basic understanding of the measurement you need. Carefully consider what the measurement will be used for and find the appropriate scale to match your needs. Remember, the shortest distance may not be driveable, and the shortest driving distance isn’t always the fastest route.