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Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as a Social Work Tool


What is GIS?

An introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) concepts and tools.


Geographic Information System (GIS) is a software tool used to Visualize, Question, Analyze and Interpret data to understand relationships, patterns, and trends.

What Can you Do with GIS?

       Using GIS, researchers can visualize epidemiologic patterns, trace health behavior, and discover trends from the local community to international levels. Practitioners can use GIS to identify community needs and access to resources to propose support.
       There are many free interactive online websites that support mapping. For practitioners, there are government and organization  sites that you will have access to while in the field. This includes both U.S. and International data. 
         The most frequently used  mapping tool is the America FactFinder (AFF).  AFF allows you to access, download or map  demographic data from the Decennial Census, the American Community Survey (sampling on an annual basis that is then aggregated)
     This data may also be downloaded in a format used by GIS software, such as ArcGIS, This format is  called "shapefiles". 

This class will use AFF to find data, map that data, then download the shapefiles and use them in ArcGIS, Note that the ArcGIS software is available on the Social Work library.

Census Geography

The Census Department distributes data for various geographic areas up to the national level. Click on the link below to see a diagram which displays geographic areas from the smallest to the largest.


Subject Guide

Jiebei Luo's picture
Jiebei Luo
O’Neill Library 212