This presentation is part of the 8th Annual GIS Day
Presenter: Dr. Timothy L. Hawthorne, Georgia State University Department of Geosciences
In the past few decades, the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in health research has grown tremendously in North America. With this growth, many academics and practitioners hope to increase participation of the general public in GIS-based studies of health and healthcare. Researchers and practitioners recognize that community members and community organizations possess a vast and nuanced knowledge about neighborhood health concerns, but they also understand the multiple challenges of incorporating community-based knowledge in health research. The subfield of Public Participation GIS (PPGIS) offers one direction for bridging the knowledge and expertise of community residents and organizations with the visualization and analytical powers of GIS. In this talk, I will discuss the opportunities for and challenges to a health-focused PPGIS that partners academics with community-based organizations and residents. I will draw heavily on two PPGIS studies that rely on community-driven questions and data collection to address neighborhood health concerns. I will first discuss the "Maps2Serve Project" in Columbus, Ohio. Entering its fifth year, the Maps2Serve project engages community residents and college students in a service learning project to map and document community assets, health concerns, and challenges in the Near Eastside of Columbus. I will then discuss the "Sick and Tired Project" in Atlanta, Georgia. As a developing community-university partnership, "Sick and Tired" engages community residents, non-profits, and college students in a mapping and clean-up effort of illegally dumped tires in South Atlanta. Both projects highlight the benefits and challenges of a health-focused Public Participation GIS and demonstrate the potential of PPGIS for developing a healthier and engaged public.