Abstract

At first glance, the domain of health is no typical area to applicate Geographical Information Systems (GIS). Nevertheless, the recent development clearly shows that also within the domains of environmental health, disease ecology and public health GIS have become an indispensable tool for processing, analysing and visualising spatial data. In the field of geographical epidemiology, GIS are used for drawing up disease maps and for ecological analysis. The striking advantages of GIS for the disease mapping process are the considerably simplified generation and variation of maps as well as a broader variety in terms of determining areal units. In the frame of ecological analysis, GIS can significantly assist with the assessment of the distribution of health-relevant environmental factors via interpolation and modelling. On the other hand, the GIS-supported methods for the detection of striking spatial patterns of disease distribution need to be much improved. An important topic in this respect is the integration of the time dimension. The increasing use of remote sensing as well as the integration into internet functionalities will stimulate the application of GIS in the field of Environmental Health Sciences (EHS). In future, the integration and analysis of health-relevant data in one single data system will open up many new research opportunities.