GIS And Public Health
Geographic information systems (GISs), or increasingly geographic information science (GIScience), centers around combining computer-mapping capabilities with additional database management and data analysis tools. Commercial GIS systems are very powerful and have touched many applications and industries, including environmental science, urban planning, agricultural applications, and others.
Public health is another focus area that has made increasing use of GIS techniques. A strict definition of public health is difficult to pin down, as it is used in different ways by different groups. In general, public health differs from personal health in that it is (1) focused on the health of populations rather than of individuals, (2) focused more on prevention than on treatment, and (3) operates in a mainly governmental (rather than private) context. These efforts fall naturally within the domain of problems requiring use of spatial analysis as part of the solution, and GIS and other spatial analysis tools are therefore recognized as providing potentially transformational capabilities for public health efforts.
This article presents some history of use of geographic information and geographic information systems in public health application areas, provides some examples showing the utilization of GIS techniques in solving specific public health problems, and finally addresses several potential issues arising from increased use of these GIS techniques in the public health arena.
Famous quotes containing the words health and/or public:
“He had had much experience of physicians, and said, the only way to keep your health is to eat what you dont want, drink what you dont like, and do what youd druther not.”
—Mark Twain [Samuel Langhorne Clemens] (18351910)
“The study of tools as well as of books should have a place in the public schools. Tools, machinery, and the implements of the farm should be made familiar to every boy, and suitable industrial education should be furnished for every girl.”
—Rutherford Birchard Hayes (18221893)