When should I use Raster or Vector format of data?

In continuation to my post about the difference between Raster and Vector, in this post I will focus on the scenarios of use of Raster or Vector format by end user.

In general, both are important and unique in its characteristics, some of the features mentioned below:

  • Raster format data is quick to acquire for a large geographical area from sources like Satellite Image, Aerial Photography, LIDAR, Drone or Scanning, where as it requires huge efforts to convert the same data into vector (Painful job of digitization).
  • Raster format is in simple grid format hence handling becomes easy unlike vector data, which require data discipline and topological checking before put to any use.
  • Raster format allows simple analysis (like overlay analysis) to be performed where as vector allows to perform high end complex analysis like Network analysis, Routing etc.

Based on above characteristic, below are some of scenarios of Change Detectionuse of data:


  • Great for quick change detection like in case of disaster scenario or temporal change monitoring.
  • Macro level study like regional forest cover, regional agriculture mapping etc.
  • Land Use / Land Cover (LULC) mapping
  • Any situation where time is limited then make sense to use Raster Data.

Image Source: http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/


  • Need to perform Analysis like Routin
    g, Short Distance Path, Avoidance Criteria rout analysisanalysis are some examples. Just to elaborate on this: for doing the route analysis from A to point B we need vector data format.
  • Complex layer analysis like overlay analysis of two layers which require analysis of overlap region (Area of Interest-AOI).
  • Vector is also important to precisely tag the information related to point, line or polygon. In Raster accuracy will be compromised.

If you have any query on this, please reach out to us by commenting on this blog or write us: support@geoithub.com

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