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GIS in Health Science: Examining Areas of Improving and Deteriorating Health in Utah

By Justin Sorensen

GIS (Geospatial Information Systems) are utilized by many fields and industries throughout the world. To highlight some of these fields, our Map Monday releases for the 2018 Fall Semester will provide examples of ways GIS can be employed within the work performed by such professionals.

For this map release, we will look at an example of GIS in Health Science.

Examining Areas of Improving and Deteriorating Health in Utah

The potential for utilizing GIS within the health science field has only begun to be realized. The ability to analyze public health statistics and present findings through the power of a geospatial visualization offers new ways of understanding situations and developing solutions. To demonstrate this process, this map investigates the question of which Utah counties report higher levels of fair and poor health among its population while visualizing trends in improvement and deterioration over a 6-year period.

When reviewing this type of map, a health science professional might ask or answer the following based on information contained within the visualization:

  • What is the current status for fair and poor health reports throughout Utah?
  • Where are the highest and lowest number of reports coming from at this time?
  • Which counties are seeing significant improvement or deterioration over the past 6-years?

When developing an example such as this, several geospatial processes are employed to depict the features being visualized within the map. These geospatial processes include:

  • An Excel Database Generation: a database containing many attribute fields related to a particular geographic location.
  • Join Transformation: a tool for combining attributes from a spreadsheet to a predefined location contained within a shapefile or geodatabase.
  • Choropleth Mapping: a type of thematic mapping that includes shaded proportions related to statistical amounts displayed in a visual presentation.

About Map Monday from GIS Services:

Throughout the semester, GIS Services will release bi-weekly maps on a variety of topics, demonstrating ideas and uses for incorporating geospatial technology into research and projects you are developing. To view our collection of maps, projects, or to learn more about the geospatial services offered through the J. Willard Marriott Library, please visit the GIS Services website @

Happy Mapping!

Justin Sorensen | GIS Specialist
Creativity & Innovation Services / GIS Services

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