Increasingly, health care professionals are integrating data and data analysis techniques into the formulation of strategies, approaches, and frameworks for addressing complex health issues. Among the various data analysis tools being used in the health care and public policy fields Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are unique in their ability to tie health data to a geographic location. This makes a GIS much more than mapping software; by providing users with a suite of tools for manipulating, analyzing, and visualizing data in a spatial way a GIS can reveal relationships, trends and patterns that would not be apparent in other data analysis applications. GIS analysis methods can be used across disciplines to answer the kinds of complex multi-dimensional questions frequently found in the health care field.
In this class, students will learn about fundamental GIS concepts while building the basic skills necessary to integrate a GIS into a decision making process. Concepts presented in lecture will be put into practice through hands-on laboratory exercises utilizing QGIS, a cross-platform free and open-source desktop geographic information system. Additionally, the course will incorporate cases studies into laboratory exercises to ground GIS analysis techniques in real world learning scenarios.