Geographical Information Systems (GIS)


GIS is a mapping tool that displays information in visual form and allows data to be analyzed in a spatial context along with other various factors.
Demo of GIS, plus answers to questions like "What is GIS? Why use GIS? How does GIS work?"

ESRI GIS and Mapping Software
In addition to basic information about GIS, this site offers information about ArcGIS mapping software. It also provides some free online introductory tutorials.

Improving Public Health Through Geographical Information Systems: An Instructional Guide to Major Concepts and Their Implementation
Teaching resources for public health and GIS, including explanations of key techniques such as address matching and spatial filtering.


GIS software packages that you can either purchase or download for free:

Boundary and Shape Files

Shapefiles for Epi Info
Administrative boundary files for all seven continents can be downloaded for free from this CDC page.

Get TRI Data
Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) Program publishes raw data and includes a browsable database.

New York State Geography and Mapping
"The New York State Data Center's Geography and Mapping site provides interactive query access to geographic boundary files, Census attribute data for various levels of statistical and political geography, and predefined thematic maps illustrating various economic and demographic characteristics of the population. For the GIS user: we provide boundary files for all Census statistical geographies, state governmental units and legislative districts in MapInfo, ESRI, and Maptitude formats. Statewide files are available as well as individual counties."

Infoshare Online
Presented by Community Studies of New York, Inc., this website offers demographic information about New York City (such as immigration trends, birth and death data, hospitalizations, and local economic data) to foster community health assessments and other analyses.

Census 2000 Gateway


The Comprehensive Epidemiologic Data Resource (CEDR) is a Department of Energy (DOE) public-use repository of data from occupational and environmental health studies.

Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER)
The Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is an authoritative source of information on cancer incidence and survival in the United States.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Information about various data sets.

Alcohol, tobacco & drug abuse and mental health data from SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies
Data about substance abuse.

GIS in Health
A description of health-related GIS issues and tools from ESRI.

HRSA – Geospatial Data Warehouse
Tools to create maps that include HRSA grants, HRSA-supported healthcare sites, health professional shortage areas, medically underserved areas, etc.

Mapping Data (from National Historic Geographic Information System)
"The National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS) provides, free of charge, aggregate census data and GIS-compatible boundary files for the United States between 1790 and 2000."

National Spatial Data Infrastructure
"The goal of this Infrastructure is to reduce duplication of effort among agencies, improve quality and reduce costs related to geographic information, to make geographic data more accessible to the public, to increase the benefits of using available data, and to establish key partnerships with states, counties, cities, tribal nations, academia and the private sector to increase data availability. "  

GOS – Geospatial One Stop
U.S. Government portal for geospatial information and data.

Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) Codes
Federal information processing standards codes (FIPS codes) are a standardized set of numeric or alphabetic codes issued by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to ensure uniform identification of geographic entities through all federal government agencies.

About USGS
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) collects, monitors, analyzes, and provides scientific understanding about natural resource conditions, issues, and problems. 

Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System (SPARCS)
"A comprehensive data reporting system established in 1979 as a result of cooperation between the health care industry and government. Initially created to collect information on discharges from hospitals, SPARCS currently collects patient level detail on patient characteristics, diagnoses and treatments, services, and charges for every hospital discharge, ambulatory surgery patient, and emergency department admission in New York State."