Geographic Information Systems (GIS) represent a number of technologies that allow you to map and analyze locational patterns of just about anything, as long as data that represent those phenomena exist (or can be generated from given data). The main purpose of the Introduction to GIS for Public Health course is to teach the core concepts of these technologies and to provide students with the skills to prepare informative maps using their own spatial data, as well as conduct preliminary spatial analyses on those data. The course is offered through an asynchronous online format, using industry standard software, ArcGIS Desktop and SaTScan. Core GIS concepts are taught using applicable public health examples and cover varying scales (local, regional/continental, global).
This course is intended primarily for professional practitioners currently in the public health and/or epidemiology fields, or recent graduates who are interested in gaining employment in this field.
Upon completion of the course you should be able to:
- Identify and describe the core concepts and practices of GIS as they relate to public health.
- Apply an appropriate coordinate system for a given mapping or spatial analysis task.
- Demonstrate basic data management skills and knowledge of sources of spatial data for public health purposes.
- Create effective and communicative thematic maps to visualize public health data.
- Conduct spatial analyses to create new information and insights from input data.
- Acquire technical skills in the use of ArcGIS Desktop and SaTScan software.
- Analyze spatial clustering and detect clusters of health events.
Topics include what a geographic information system actually is, how spatial data are stored on a computer, projections and coordinate systems, creating thematic maps, and analyzing spatial data for potential disease clusters.
Unit 1: Introduction to Geographic Information Systems and Spatial Data Analysis
Unit 2: Coordinate Systems and Projections
Unit 3: Basic Spatial and Attribute Data Management
Unit 4: Acquiring and Managing Spatial Data
Unit 5: Thematic Maps for Public Health Data
Unit 6: Disease Cluster and Cluster Analysis
Public Health and Epidemiology
ArcGIS Desktop and SaTScan™ software are required for this course. ArcGIS Desktop is designed for the Windows operating environment, and so you must have access to a computer that runs that operating system. Apple users with Intel-based computers may run this software if they acquire and install Windows. Instructions on how to do this are provided as an activity in this Overview section.
ArcGIS specific requirements:
- General Requirements: Windows OS; modern computer with at least 2.2GHz processor, 2GB RAM and 2.4 GB available storage; must be connected to the Internet when activating software.
- Visit the ArcGIS System Requirements page to learn more about specific details.
SaTScan™ specific requirements:
- Windows, general requirements: Windows OS, modern computer, 20 MB available storage, Java Runtime Environment. Visit the SaTScan website to learn more about specific details and download for Windows.
- Mac OS X, general requirements: Mac OS X 10.6 or newer; Intel processor, 40 MB available storage, Java Runtime. Visit the SaTScan website to learn more about specific details and download for Mac OS X.
Unit Assignments (6)
60% (10% each)