Most cell phones have a GIS feature. Now, apply that same technology to public health and you have the foundation for USF’s first GIS Day.
Coordinated by the USF College of Public Health, GIS Day is an educational event that enables Geographical Information System (GIS) experts to showcase their applications in various research settings to the general public, businesses, students, and faculty. The event was developed by the National Geography Society and is held annually on the third Wednesday of November during Geography Awareness Week.
“GIS is an innovate technology that can be applied to the entire healthcare industry—from hospitals and medical centers to health insurance organizations and research institutions to health departments,” said Semiha Caliskan, MSc, adjunct instructor in the Department of Global Health and GIS Day coordinator.
The inaugural event featured speakers from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Agency, US Geological Survey, DigitalGlobe, Hillsborough County Planning Commission, and Polk County Health Department.
A multidisciplinary field where computer hardware and the software industry collaborate to create effective spatial mapping tools, GIS is used by many organizations, public agencies, and researchers to geographically visualize different types of data. The tools are commonly used by urban planners, transportations departments, and epidemiologists.
Students in the COPH learn to use GIS technology via HSC 4933: Introduction to Public Health Geographic Information Systems and are challenged to apply the knowledge and skills they acquired in GIS-themed poster competitions.
According to Ms. Caliskan, a senior GIS specialist and instructor for HSC 4933, “GIS technology provides endless opportunities to support decision making for all healthcare professionals though spatial analysis and visualization of the healthcare data.”
GIS instruction is offered in the Department of Global Health. The department is home to more than 10 concentrations that lead to MPH, MSPH, DrPH, and PhD degrees, as well several dual degrees, graduate certificates, and special programs. Most recently, Global Health added an online master of public health degree in infection control to its academic offerings.
Story by Semiha Caliskan and Natalie D. Preston, USF College of Public Health