Our society generates exponential amounts of information every day. Big data now fuels the engines of change and influence, but how can we harness this power to make meaningful social change? Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping is one powerful knowledge translation tool that can serve this need. A recent article If you build it, they still may not come discusses a case study that demonstrates how development of skills in GIS mapping can advance effective evidence-informed decision making by supporting collaboration between data producers, data users/analysts and organizational managers in very meaningful ways.
When these key groups share a common appreciation and knowledge of GIS applications to assess both access and barriers to community resources and services, the scope and quality of policy driven decisions can be maximized.
GIS is a powerful tool for improving the understanding of data through visualisation and analysis, and is being increasingly used by more and more professionals for planning, monitoring and surveillance. Presenting data in maps can provide more insight than a table of the same data, enabling quick assessments of trends and interrelationships. This capability can assist in targeting public health initiatives as well as evaluating related programs and informing long term planning.
The ability to map and analyze valuable organizational resources to inform policy and social reform for the betterment of our society is but one aspect what the Population Health and Geographic Information Systems (PHDA-03) course offers.
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Anders is currently a post-doctoral research and teaching fellow with the School of Population and Public Health (SPPH) at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and is the instructor for the Population Health and GIS (PHDA 03) course being offered this September. “As a researcher involved in environmental epidemiology, I see the strength and value of health mapping and applied spatial analytics on a day-to-day basis. As an instructor for the Population Health and GIS course, I really enjoy sharing this knowledge and passion with my student colleagues. It’s a very specialized, fully online course that balances theory with hands on data analysis work in a remotely accessed Secure Research Training Lab. One of the highlights of the online course is working with students as they develop final projects that are chosen to expand on their personal interests in their academic or professional lives”.