Using GIS to Improve Community Initiatives

For my research paper Using Geographic Information Systems to Improve Community Initiatives Regarding Obesity in the United States, I investigated using GIS applications to improve quality of life and monitor health and wellness trends.  I utilized the UT Library’s databases to search for peer-reviewed scholarly articles with qualitative and quantitative information on using geographic information systems to track obesity rates and in turn, improve community initiatives regarding obesity.  I evaluated over 30 scholarly articles that were relevant to my study and interpreted these articles to inform important aspects of the future of geographic information related to health and obesity in the United States.  I also discussed further implications for the field in the matter of using GIS applications to track and improve overall the overall health of people in the United States.

In addition to the research paper I also prepared a 15-minute class presentation to discuss the implications of GIS applications and my chosen topic.  Here is a link to my class presentation.

GIS Community Initiative Presentation

After working for the American Cancer Society as a Health Initiatives Representative for over four years, I became very interested in health and wellness issues within the United States.  GIS applications offer innovative ways to provide valuable data/information and track health statistics.  As a future information professional it is important to understand how geographic information systems track, record, and distribute metadata.

With no formal background in Geographic Information Systems, I was able to learn  the basic underlying principles and concepts in this field.  The knowledge of GIS and geospatial analysis has given me a science/technology based skill that will allow me to transform data to create maps, analyze data, create geospatial reports, and build databases.

I also had the opportunity to create a cartographic metadata record by using the Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata Workbook and OME.  I applied a descriptive standard by identifying the appropriate rules for creating a metadata record.  I looked at ‘Monthly U.S. Snow Monitoring from the U.S. Cooperative Observer Network’ collected by the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC).  I was interested in looking at snowfall data because I grew up in PA and experienced harsh winters with lots of snow as a child.  In creating this metadata record, I searched for data on the NCDC website and was able to extract the information I needed to create my own metadata record in OME.  I also became familiar with the CSDGM Workbook and required identification and metadata information fields.

Lastly, I completed a geospatial discovery project which required me to access and search government databases, local and federal geography repositories, reference services, and other GIS databases to find the correct information/answer for 15 different types of geospatial questions.  Through this project I was able to gain exposure and experience to a number of different GIS databases and resources.  I included a step-by-step summary of how I obtained the information including screenshots and URLs.

Competencies demonstrated:  Resource Management, Reference and User Services

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