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.


Every year the third week of November is Geography Awareness Week, and the Wednesday of that week is celebrated as GIS Day. Once again, like every second year, we organize a celebration for Health GIS day with our GoH members and the broader Health GIS community, in Calgary and beyond.

We are excited to announce our upcoming 5th GIS Day event, “Health GIS: Spatial Thinking in Applied Research (STAR)”, supported by the O’Brien Institute of Public Health, which will be held online on November 20th, 2024. 

Building on the tremendous success of our pervious events, which attracted many participants from all over the world, we continue to embrace the virtual format to foster a diverse and inclusive community. By remaining online in 2024, we aim to accommodate and encourage participation from a wider audience, transcending geographical barriers and enabling a richer exchange of ideas and innovations in the field of Health GIS and various applied topics. Join us for a series of enlightening presentations and discussions that highlight the transformative power of GIS in understanding and addressing complex global challenges.

We extend our heartfelt thanks to the O’Brien Institute and Esri Canada for their generous support, which has been crucial in making our past events a remarkable success. We also deeply appreciate our dedicated speakers—students, researchers, and public health practitioners—whose contributions have demonstrated the excellence, enthusiasm, and creativity of our Geography of Health study group and wider Health GIS community. 


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

    November 20, 2024: 5th GIS Day event - Health GIS: Spatial Thinking in Applied Research (STAR)

  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