Calgary Peace Bridge

Geography of Health and GIS Analysis Research Group

The interactions of people, society, place, space, and the environment

Geography of Health and GIS Analysis Research Group

Health geography studies the relationships between health and place. It is concerned with the interactions of people, society, place, space, and the environment. Health geography is known for its contributions to understanding the spatial pattern and diffusion of disease, environmental exposures, and the location and accessibility of health services. Health geographers practice and promote spatial thinking in the health sciences.

Geographies of health encompass a plurality of research paradigms and methodologies, including Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and spatial data analysis. The Geography of Health (GoH) group supports geographical enquiry and spatial thinking in population and public health. The GoH group serves as a hub, connecting geographical expertise with health research and practice. 

Recent and ongoing activities of the GoH group include the organization of high profile events and successful hands-on workshops to disseminate knowledge and awareness of health geography and GIS.


Were you aware that the third week of November is usually Geography Awareness Week, and, if that were not special enough, that the Wednesday of that week is also GIS Day?

Well, on that special Wednesday, November 18th 2020, we, the GOH (Geography of Health and GIS Research Study Group), supported by the O’Brien Institute for Public Health, held our third Health GIS day event: “Health GIS: Spatial Thinking in Applied Research (STAR)”, with a twist. Because of the pandemic restrictions, this GIS day event was held online. While we missed the personal interaction, the poster session, the GIS day cake, and all that had made our previous Health GIS day events so special, the success of this 2020 event was beyond our expectations. Over 150 participants joined us from all over the world (checkout the map)  for a series of presentations ranging from needle debris, pediatric concussion, food deserts, asthma exacerbation, to many aspects of COVID that GIS can help understand: contagion, urbanity in west Africa, parent level of worry, socioeconomic status. You can find here the full list of Abstracts & Presentations.

The success of this GIS day event was made possible by the generous support of the O’Brien Institute and by Esri Canada,  who not only provided an inspiring talk on the possibilities of GIS software in mapping the pandemic, but also generously donated ArcGIS licences that we offered to our best presenters.

And, of course, our Health GIS day would not have happened without the participation, hard work, and enthusiasm of our speakers: students, researchers, and public health practitioners, who mostly presented geographical analyses, well beyond simple mapping or descriptive applications. These talks showed the maturity of our O’Brien Institute Health GIS community, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. This GIS day clearly marked the transition from the scattered GIS applications where we started a decade ago, to the current vibrant, cohesive community that recognizes the depth, importance, challenges and potential of GIS research in public health.

Well done, GOH! We look forward to more years of growth in public health GIS research and applications, and to seeing you all at our next event.


The Internet may have made the world smaller, but the Geography of Health and GIS Analysis Research Group is expanding boundaries with cutting-edge technology in population and public health.

Housed at the O’Brien Institute for Public Health, the Geography of Health and GIS Analysis Research Group studies the relationships between health and place and the interactions of people and the environment to better understand spatial patterns and diffusion of disease, environmental exposures and accessibility of health-care services to identify risks and ultimately improve health and care delivery.

For the uninitiated, geographic information systems are visualization tools designed to capture, manipulate and analyze data sets that can be presented spatially in mapping overlays. The technology is employed in everything from emergency service dispatch to traffic management and can be used to identify important health issues that can be addressed through spatial analyses.

The Geography of Health and GIS Analysis Research Group serves as a hub to connect geographical expertise with health research and practice, enhance spatial literacy and expand the use of GIS for better decision making in health-care delivery throughout Alberta.

What we do

  • consult on GIS-related applications across the University of Calgary and Alberta Health Services (AHS)
  • analyze the environmental and socioeconomic determinants of health in the geospatial dimension
  • collaborate with stakeholders across Alberta to share health GIS standards and spatial tools
  • improve coordination among health GIS users in academia, industry and government
  • organize workshops and annual educational events such as Health GIS Day

  1. Upcoming events

    There are no upcoming events scheduled at this time.

  2. Previous events

    November 16, 2022: Health GIS: STAR (Spatial Thinking in Applied Research)

    March 26, 2021: Modern Health GIS – Supporting the spectrum from understanding to action

    November 18, 2020: Health GIS: STAR (Spatial Thinking in Applied Research)
    To view the presenters' slide presentations, please visit the event page.

    May 8, 2020: Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Disease Epidemics using the Gridded Population of the World (GPW) with Dr. Ashok Krishnamurthy 

    Jan. 11, 2019: Ethics in GIS, with Dr. Natalie Ludlow

    Nov. 14, 2018: GIS Day: Health GIS: STAR (Spatial Thinking in Applied Research)

    Mar. 16, 2018: GIS and EMS - Utilizing Geospatial Data for EMS Response and Planning, with Tyler Selby

    Dec. 1, 2017: Modelling Air Quality in Calgary using Land Use Regression, with Isabelle Couloigner

    Nov. 15, 2017: GIS Day: Keynote speakers Dr. Nigel Waters, Dr. Judy Seidel and Davor Gugoli

    Apr. 7, 2017: Type and Proximity of Green Spaces are Important for Preventing Cardiovascular Morbidity and Diabetes, with Roland Ngom

    Nov. 25, 2016: Integrating Local Spatial and Dynamic Simulation to Model Childhood Obesity, with Rizwan Shahid

    Feb. 26, 2016: Techniques, Theory and Practice for a Spatial Turn in Health Research, with Michael Goodchild

    May 8, 2015: Spatial Epidemiology Case Studies from George Mason University, with Dr. Nigel Waters

    Nov. 1, 2013: Development of Functional Geographic Areas and Related Components for Health Services Planning, with Dr. Judy Seidel

    Jan. 25, 2013: Geography Matters: GIS, Maps, and Geography of Health, with Dr. Stefania Bertazzon

    Jan. 5, 2013: Geography of Health and GIS Analysis Workshop

    Nov. 25, 2011: Geographic Systems and Population Health Research: Examples from Spatial Injury Surveillance, with Dr. Nadine Schuuurman