Confronting the data-divide in a time of spatial turns and volunteered geographic information
- 833 Downloads
Geography is enjoying a period of unparalleled visibility, driven by the growing use of geographic methods and concepts across the sciences and humanities—the so-called spatial turn—and the pervasive use of geospatial Web technologies and their concomitant influence on society, especially the phenomenon of volunteered geographic information (VGI). The field of public health is beginning to harness spatiality with gusto; however, the geospatial Web and its social phenomena are underexplored in this context even though they may be particularly useful for public health enquiry, especially in low-resource settings that lack traditional data collection mechanisms. A case study framed within these two current phenomena is presented to illustrate the influence of geography and its potential for addressing the data-divide—the disparity in availability of data for scientific enquiry and decision-making most felt in low-and middle income countries. A facilitated VGI data collection initiative collected public health-related injury data in Cape Town, South Africa, as a pragmatic alternative given the lack of data from traditional sources. Emergency medical services personnel interacted with a GeoWeb interface to volunteer their informed opinions of high-incident injury locations. Previously unrecorded injury location data were created, and combined with traditional injury data for use in an ongoing study examining the environmental determinants of injury in this setting, which speaks to the possibility for hybrid authoritative/asserted data collection strategies. This study speaks to the growing influence of geography and one of its driving forces, the techno-social revolution in geospatial technology and data. Future work should continue to examine their potential to address the data-divide.
KeywordsSpatial turn Geography Volunteered geographic information GeoWeb Public health Data access
This research was funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Standard Research Grant. Additional research support for Cinnamon was provided by a SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarship doctoral award. Schuurman is also supported by a career award from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR). We are grateful to Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town for collaboration opportunities and assistance on this project.
- AbouZahr, C., & Boerma, T. (2005). Health information systems: The foundations of public health. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 83(8), 578–583.Google Scholar
- Ashraf, H. (2005). Countries need better information to receive development aid. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 83(8), 565–566.Google Scholar
- Bambas Nolen, L., Braveman, P., Dachs, J. N. W., Delgado, I., Gakidou, E., Moser, K., et al. (2005). Strengthening health information systems to address health equity challenges. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 83(8), 597–603.Google Scholar
- Baum, S., Kendall, E., Muenchberger, H., Gudes, O., & Yigitcanlar, T. (2010). Geographical information systems: An effective planning and decision-making platform for community health coalitions in Australia. Health Information Management Journal, 39(3), 28.Google Scholar
- Benigeri, M. (2007). Geographic information systems (GIS) in the health field—An opportunity to bridge the gap between researchers and administrators. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 98(Suppl 1), S74–S76.Google Scholar
- Boulos, M. N. K., Resch, B., Crowley, D., Breslin, J., Sohn, G., Burtner, R., et al. (2011). Crowdsourcing, citizen sensing and sensor web technologies for public and environmental health surveillance and crisis management: trends, OGC standards and application examples. International Journal of Health Geographics, 10(1), 67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Boulos, M. N. K., Sanfilippo, A. P., Corley, C. D., & Wheeler, S. (2010). Social Web mining and exploitation for serious applications: Technosocial predictive analytics and related technologies for public health, environmental and national security surveillance. Computer Methods and Programs in Biomedicine, 100(1), 16–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Chen, W., & Sui, D. Z. (2010). Influenza surveillance using volunteered geographic information (VGI): A GIS-based Hidden Markov modeling approach. Zurich: GIScience.Google Scholar
- Cinnamon, J., & Schuurman, N. (2010). Injury surveillance in low-resource settings using geospatial and social web technologies. International Journal of Health Geographics, 9(1), 1–13.Google Scholar
- Cinnamon, J., Schuurman, N., & Hameed, S. M. (2011). Pedestrian injury and human behaviour: Observing road-rule violations at high-incident intersections. PLoS ONE, 6(6), 1–10.Google Scholar
- Coleman, D. J., Georgiadou, Y., & Labonte, J. (2009). Volunteered geographic information: The nature and motivation of produsers. International Journal of Spatial Data Infrastructures Research, 4(1), 332–358.Google Scholar
- Connors, J. P., Lei, S., & Kelly, M. (2012). Citizen science in the age of neogeography: Utilizing volunteered geographic information for environmental monitoring. Annals of the Association of American Geographers. doi: 0.1080/00045608.2011.627058
- Cromley, E. K., & McLafferty, S. L. (2002). GIS and public health. New York: Guildford.Google Scholar
- Dunn, J. R., Schaub, P., & Ross, N. A. (2007). Unpacking income inequality and population health—The peculiar absence of geography. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 98, S10–S17.Google Scholar
- ESRI. (2011). ArcGIS online. www.arcgis.com/home. Accessed December 10, 2011.
- Fischer, F. (2012). VGI as Big Data: A new but delicate geographic data-source. GeoInformatics, 15(3), 46–47.Google Scholar
- Goodchild, M. F. (2007b). Citizens as voluntary sensors: Spatial data infrastructure in the world of Web 2.0. International Journal of Spatial Data Infrastructures Research, 2(1), 24–32.Google Scholar
- Google. (2012). Getting started guide: Google MapUp kit. http://support.google.com/mapmaker/bin/static.py?hl=en&page=guide.cs&guide=30028&topic=30130. Accessed June 7, 2012.
- Green, A. I., Follert, M., Osterlund, K., & Paquin, J. (2010). Space, place and sexual sociality: Towards an ‘atmospheric analysis’. Gender. Work & Organization, 17(1), 7–27.Google Scholar
- International Telecommunications Union. (2007). ICT statistics. http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/statistics/ict/index.html. Accessed May 29, 2008.
- Kiefer, L., Frank, J., Di Ruggiero, E., Dobbins, M., Manuel, D., Gully, P. R., et al. (2005). Fostering evidence-based decision-making in Canada: Examining the need for a Canadian population and public health evidence centre and research network. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 96(3), I-1–I-19.Google Scholar
- Lake, R., & Farley, J. (2007). Infrastructure for the geospatial Web. In A. Scharl & K. Tochtermann (Eds.), The geospatial web: How geobrowsers, social software, and the Web 2.0 are shaping the network society. London: Springer.Google Scholar
- Lampos, V., & Cristianini, N. (2010). Tracking the flu pandemic by monitoring the social web. In: 2nd International Workshop on Cognitive Information Processing (CIP), Elba, Italy.Google Scholar
- Landis Lewis, Z., Douglas, G. P., Monaco, V., & Crowley, R. S. (2010). Touchscreen task efficiency and learnability in an electronic medical record at the point-of-care. Studies in Health Technology And Informatics, 160(Pt 1), 101–105.Google Scholar
- LaScala, E. A., Gerber, D., & Gruenewald, P. J. (2000). Demographic and environmental correlates of pedestrian injury collisions: A spatial analysis. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 32(5), 651–658.Google Scholar
- Leadbetter, C., & Miller, P. (2004). The Pro-Am revolution: How enthusiasts are changing our economy and society. London: Demos.Google Scholar
- London, J., Mock, C., Abantanga, F., Quansah, R., & Boateng, K. (2002). Using mortuary statistics in the development of an injury surveillance system in Ghana. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 80(5), 357–364.Google Scholar
- O’Reilly, T. (2005). What is Web 2.0: Design patterns and business models for the next generation of software. http://oreilly.com/web2/archive/what-is-web-20.html. Accessed April 17, 2012.
- Potvin, L., & Hayes, M. V. (2007). Place and health research in Canada. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 98(Suppl 1), S6–S7.Google Scholar
- Schuurman, N., Hameed, S. M., Fiedler, R., Bell, N., & Simons, R. K. (2008). The spatial epidemiology of trauma: The potential of geographic information science to organize data and reveal patterns of injury and services. Canadian Journal of Surgery, 51(5), 389–395.Google Scholar
- Schuurman, N., Cinnamon, J., Matzopoulos, R., Fawcett, V., Nicol, A., & Hameed, S. M. (2011). Collecting injury surveillance data in low- and middle-income countries: The cape town trauma registry pilot. Global Public Health, 6(8), 874–889.Google Scholar
- Smith, R., & Koehlmoos, T. P. (2011). Provision of health information for all. BMJ, 342(d4151), 1–2.Google Scholar
- Soja, E. W. (2009). Taking space personally. In B. Warf & S. Arias (Eds.), The spatial turn: Interdisciplinary perspectives. London: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
- Stefanidis, A., Crooks, A., & Radzikowski, J. (in press). Harvesting ambient geospatial information from social media feeds. GeoJournal. doi: 10.1007/s10708-011-9438-2.
- Stensgaard, A. S., Saarnak, C. F. L., Utzinger, J., Vounatsou, P., Simoonga, C., Mushinge, G., et al. (2009). Virtual globes and geospatial health: the potential of new tools in the management and control of vector-borne diseases. Geospatial Health, 3(2), 127–141.Google Scholar
- Turner, A. (2006). Introduction to Neogeography. Available at: http://oreilly.com/catalog/9780596529956/cover.html. O’Reilly.
- United Nations. (2011). The millennium development goals report 2011. New York: UN.Google Scholar
- Warf, B., & Arias, S. (2009). Introduction: The reinsertion of space into the social sciences and humanities. In B. Warf & S. Arias (Eds.), The spatial turn: Interdisciplinary perspectives. London: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
- World Health Organization. (2007). Everybody’s business: Strengthening health systems to improve health outcomes WHO’s framework for action. Geneva: WHO.Google Scholar
- World Health Organization. (2008). World Health Organization—Integrated disease surveillance and response. http://www.who.int/countries/eth/areas/surveillance/en/index.html. Accessed June 24, 2008.