Geographical Information System
A Geographical Information System (GIS) is a computer-based system that can create maps of geographical areas using different layers of information (i.e. rivers, train tracks, parks). By combining this information, GIS allows people to more easily see and understand spatial patterns and relationships.
GIS information is represented as map layers. The layers each represent different aspects of the spatial environment for a given area. Examples of different types of map layers are: buildings, roads, vegetation, rivers, parks, demographic data ect.
An example of how the BECRP team can use GIS in our research
GIS can be used to visualise the geographical features within 1km of a residential address by creating and overlaying multiple map layers.
Layer 1: street network information
Layer 2: rivers within the area
Layer 3: parks within the area
To integrate this information, the map layers are overlayed. By overlaying the map layers, it allows our analysts to easily see the spatial and geographical layout of the area within 1km of a residential address and analyse any relationships.
Why do we use GIS?
Here at the BECRP/ICHEN we use GIS to visualise and analyse neighbourhood characteristics in relation to health-related data (i.e. cognitive and physical health)