After giving the Health Geography Primer at Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island, Dr. Roberta Goldman (anthropology) wondered if we could use GIS to redesign a community health analysis module for residents’ behavioral health rotation. Residents often have no prior experience with geography or GIS, so I knew we would need three things:
- a very simple and free GIS program capable of high-quality geographic data visualization on any residents’ computer. The solution was indiemapper
- a fairly comprehensive database of socioeconomic variables indicative of community health outcomes with geographic units below the county level (Rhode Island only has five counties). The solution was the CDC Social Vulnerability Index. I have complied the CDC Social Vulnerability Index data for Rhode Island into an indiemapper map file, available here.
- a set of instructions that will enable residents to explore geographic data interactively at home without frustration or technical support. Download a pdf of the instructions here.
This activity design promises to have even greater impact if it includes geographic distributions of health outcomes. To this end, I’ve compiled a similar activity for Vermont, including Lyme disease data from 2015. Download the exercise here: Instructions, and Indiemapper Map File.