Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

RHINO Forum on Geographic Information Systems applications for Routine Health Information

Moderated by Dai Hozumi and Alec Mckinney of John Snow, Inc.

For the fifth RHINO On-Line Forum, we decided to use a different format. RHINO List subscribers were invited to submit questions that they might have about Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and its applications for Routine Health Information. Two GIS experts, Dai Hozumi and Alec McKinney of John Snow Inc (JSI) then composed answers to these questions which are presented here.

Question: What is GIS? How is it used? What are the overall strengths, weaknesses and challenges of using GIS? What are the pitfalls?

Alec McKinney: Simply put, a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) combines layers of information about a place to give you a better understanding of that place and its inhabitants. What layers of information you combine depends on your purpose. Today, GIS is used in nearly all professional disciplines, including the fields of health and public health.

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