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Spatial Epidemiology and Public Health

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Geospatial Technology for Human Well-Being and Health

Abstract

Applications of geospatial technology in public health have grown considerably during the past two decades. Terms and disciplines such as “geomedicine,” “geospatial health,” and “spatial epidemiology” have become more commonplace as public health officials, researchers, and the community at large have come to rely on maps and geospatial analyses on a regular basis. Geographic information systems (GIS) and spatial epidemiological analyses allow us to visualize and disseminate images and information about the geospatial distribution of disease outbreaks, natural disasters that impact human lives, access to healthcare facilities, “hotspots” for negative health outcomes, and environmental health threats, to name a few. Whether on the nightly news, on our smartphones, in our cars, or in the classroom, we depend on maps and spatial analyses to inform our understanding of our local surroundings and places that merit further attention from a public health perspective. In this chapter, we will provide an overview of spatial health and its many variations. We will present three overarching domains that encapsulate applications for GIS and spatial analyses focused on public health. And, we will present a number of geographic mapping and analytical techniques that can be used to improve our understanding of spatial health, highlighting the strengths and limitations of each approach, culminating in a case study in spatial epidemiology and public health focused on the opioid crisis. We will conclude the chapter with a focus on the many successful uses of GIS and spatial technology in public health and discuss future directions.

I’ve always been fascinated by maps and cartography. A map tells you where you’ve been, where you are, and where you’re going – in a sense it’s three tenses in one.– Peter Greenaway

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Correspondence to Thomas J. Stopka .

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Shrestha, S., Stopka, T.J. (2022). Spatial Epidemiology and Public Health. In: Faruque, F.S. (eds) Geospatial Technology for Human Well-Being and Health. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-71377-5_4

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