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GIS in Human Health Studies

  • Joseph E. Bunnell
  • Alexander W. Karlsen
  • Robert B. Finkelman
  • Timothy M. Shields
Chapter

Abstract

Databases used in the field of medical geology are generally comprised of geospatial and/or temporal elements. Although these are not requirements for all medical geology research projects, much of the discussion in this chapter will be focused on databases incorporated into geographic information systems (GIS). GIS are computer-based (or manual) methods that allow a user to input, store, retrieve, manipulate, analyze, and output spatial data (Aronoff 1989). There are four major systems of GIS: engineering mapping systems (computer-aided design/computer-assisted mapping; CAD/CAM), geographic base file systems, image processing systems, and generalized thematic mapping systems. Various software packages are available that perform one or more of these systems, and the relative ability to move data back and forth between them can be critical to the needs and success of a particular GIS. Relational databases are the most commonly used types of databases in GIS (Cromley and McLafferty 2002). Relational database management models are convenient for linking formerly disparate databases together in a GIS. The databases to be joined must share one common attribute, usually an identifier such as coded patient number, sample site, or latitude/longitude. Other database management structures, such as hierarchical and network systems, are not as well suited to health GIS applications, although they may be useful for extremely large databases.

Keywords

Global Position System Geographic Information System Lyme Disease Geospatial Data Dental Fluorosis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph E. Bunnell
    • 1
  • Alexander W. Karlsen
    • 1
  • Robert B. Finkelman
    • 2
  • Timothy M. Shields
    • 3
  1. 1.United States Department of the InteriorUnited States Geological SurveyTexasUSA
  2. 2.Department of GeosciencesUniversity of TexasDallas, RichardsonUSA
  3. 3.Bloomberg School of Public HealthThe Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA

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