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Geography is an inherent aspect of public health. Any activity related to the distribution or investigation of a health service or disease within the population has a geographic component. It is through the framework of Geographic Information System (GIS) technologies and concepts that these activities are measured and understood. The implementation of GIS serves as the core mechanism that supports four primary functions of the Public Health Geographics team - spatial data creation and maintenance, geospatial analysis, map application development and cartographic representations.
PHG Provides Strong Support for Three Essential Health Services:
The complexity of a GIS enables PHG to perform a broad range of functions, from science-based measurements to a tool for dynamic visual communication. Likewise, the 10 Essential Health Services, as set forth by the Core Public Health Steering Committee, comprise a broad range of concepts for an effective and complete public health system, from scientific investigations to communication of health issues. With such broad scopes in place, PHG naturally supports or assists in the implementation of many of the 10 Essential Services. PHG implements a GIS framework that assists both epidemiologists and policy-makers in any number of service functions. The utilization of GIS through all levels of government offers an effective enhancement to the public health system and many of its essential services.
GIS organizes information into geo-referenced layers for the analysis of spatial relationships and patterns. PHG can then leverage geospatial toolsets to find evidence-based answers and solutions to any geographic question. We turn data collection efforts into actionable information.
The Indiana State Department of Health has long been at the forefront of utilizing geospatial technology in public health. As early as 1991, the ISDH began implementing GIS to depict various datasets. One of the first major roles of PHG was to prove correlations between aging housing stock and high blood lead levels in children to support targeted screenings based upon residence. PHG has continued to play a significant role in nearly all of the health programs at the ISDH including Maternal and Child Health, Cancer Epidemiology and Public Health Preparedness. PHG also continues long-standing partnerships with other agencies within state government to leverage GIS infrastructure across the state enterprise.