by Anders Erickson, instructor in the Population Health and Data Analytics program

Geospatial information (GI) identifies the geographic location of natural and built objects; but when combined with other forms of data, it can provide extremely valuable information for a myriad of business, government, academic educational or consumer applications. 

For this reason, the analysis of Geospatial data has the power to effectively inform decision making and policy development related to a wide range of industries, from natural resources, transportation, and agriculture to urban/rural planning, emergency response, and health services and surveillance.

While traditionally anchored in government, the rapidly expanding world of geospatial analytics is well suited to serve small and medium-sized firms with the flexibility for innovation across industries.  Recent studies such as The Canadian Geomatics Environmental Scan Findings Report  and The Value Study Findings Report state that geospatial information contributed $20.7 billion (1.1%) to Canada’s GDP in 2013, with the majority (83%) of contributing firms having fewer than 100 employees.  With immeasurable indirect social and environmental benefits, these reports highlight the strengths and clearly demonstrate the need to actively adopt geospatial tools and technologies across multiple sectors. 

As our global connections become ever more important, geospatial knowledge has an important role to play in supporting the social and environmental health of our societies. Knowing how to incorporate space into health research is an essential 21st century skill that has the ability to shape the way we live. 

To learn more about this topic and for information on course offerings, click here.


Anders Erickson research predominantly focuses on the spatial and environmental epidemiology of non-communicable diseases and the social determinants of health. He 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 course. 

“I’ve been working with geospatial data to gain insights into health for many years and I really value the importance of environmental research that explores the social and behavioral factors influencing the health of our world. I’m excited to share my passion for geospatial analysis with my student colleagues in the upcoming Population and GIS course”.

  • Posted June 14, 2018