Public Health

Public Health

View of The City of Unalaska, Alaska with mountains in the backgroud

The Deadliest Catch City Implements GIS

The City of Unalaska, Alaska focuses their enterprise GIS solution on infrastructure and asset management, including electric, water, wastewater and stormwater systems, and parcel management.

View from up high of a snowy town street. Truckee, CA uses GIS.

Truckee, CA Implements GIS

California Town Implements GIS.

A snowy Town of Snowmass at night with lights glowing in the dusk. The town uses GIS.

Snowmass, CO: GIS Integration

Vacation Paradise Begins Comprehensive GIS Program.

Lauderdale Lakes, Florida. Aerial view of tax parcels for tax assessors using GIS.

Florida City Uses GIS for Utilities

GIS for Small Municipalities.

nurse working in public health

A goal of Public Health Departments is to ensure that everyone in the community has an opportunity to a long and healthy life, regardless of income, education, or racial/ethnic background. Public health provides community-wide protection against communicable diseases and emerging health threats; health services at local schools; community-based health promotion and chronic disease prevention services; services and policy work addressing public health issues such as tobacco use, lead poisoning prevention, and oral health; and much more. Through these activities, Public Health departments strive to eliminate health inequities in their communities. Commonly, Public Health officials turn to GIS for their evolving needs.

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.

GIS for Public Health dates back as far as 1854, when John Snow tracked a cholera outbreak to discover the source. Today’s public health problems are much larger in scope than those Dr. Snow faced, and researchers today depend on modern GIS and other computer mapping applications to assist in their analysis. While the concept has been around for many years, the use of GIS in public health is an application area still in its infancy. Like most new applications, there is a lot of promise, but also a lot of pitfalls that must be avoided along the way. Many researchers and practitioners are concentrating of this effort, hoping that the benefits outweigh the risks and the costs associated with this emerging application area for modern GIS techniques.