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Interactive spatial data analysis in medical geography

  • Biology
  • Computer Science
  • Design
  • Ecology
  • Education
  • Geography
  • Medicine


Interactive spatial data analysis involves the use of software environments that permit the visualization, exploration and, perhaps, modelling of geographically-referenced data. Such systems are of obvious value in epidemiological research, both of an environmental and geographical nature. There is an increasing number of such software environments available on a variety of platforms and operating systems. This paper considers the use of the proprietary Geographical Information System, ARC/INFO, in a spatial analysis context, showing how the spatial analytic tools that may be added to it can be exploited by geographical epidemiologists; such tools include those for modelling possible raised incidence of disease around suspected sources of pollution. The paper also reviews the use of systems such as S-Plus and XLISP-STAT, statistical programming environments to which spatial analysis functions or libraries may be added. The use of INFO-MAP, a system designed to aid in the teaching of interactive spatial data analysis, is also highlighted. The various software environments are illustrated with reference to examples concerned with: clustering of childhood leukaemia in part of Lancashire, England; Burkitt's lymphoma in Uganda; larynx cancer in Lancashire; and childhood mortality in Auckland, New Zealand.

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