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.