Preparatory Readings

Preparatory Readings

This page includes readings and other resources that are general in nature, but may also be cited in the course materials.

What is GIS? - Easy introductory reading to Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

Understanding Earth - Provides a nice introduction to the history of Geographic Information Systems.

GIS and Pandemic Planning - an Esri white paper that outlines approaches to pandemic planning using GIS.

NYC Dept. Health GIS Center Mapping Standards - This document describes common elements for inclusion on a printed map, and outlines some best practices for choropleth mapping.

CDC’s Cartographic Guidelines for Public Health - from the CDC’s Geography and Geospatial Science Working Group

Ruberto RA, Brissette IF. Geographic Access to Diabetes Prevention Program Sites: New York State Department of Health. Prev Chronic Dis 2014;11:130400.

Peacock JM. Tracking Clinic Performance to Improve Vascular Care: Minnesota Department of Health. Prev Chronic Dis 2013;10:130301. Textbook

GIS Tutorial for Health (Updated for ArcGIS 10), Kristen Kurland and Wilpen Gorr, ESRI Press.

Kurland and Gorr have put together a nice step-by-step tutorial using predominantly health / healthcare datasets and problem sets, specifically for ArcGIS 10. The book covers a number of topics, as outlined from the description, WHO / CDC examples, an elderly population study, walkability study.

Important Note: Unless you don’t want or need the trial version of ArcGIS that comes with the text, I strongly recommend getting a new copy as you risk otherwise getting a copy that will not include unregistered software. GIS Tutorial for Health: Fifth Edition By Kristen S. Kurland, Wilpen L. Gorr

If you are using this text for a course, you will need access to a PC (or make arrangements to complete homework assignments in a computer lab), and a USB thumb drive available to take the complete homework assignments. Many labs will have computers with the software pre-installed, but you will not be able to save your work to the hard disk on the lab machines (nor should you).

A six-month trial copy of ArcGIS 10 comes with the workbook (see note on why you should purchase a new copy of the text). You may choose to install the software on your own PC in order to complete the homework assignments. In order to complete the installation of the software, you will have to have Internet access to get an Authorization Code. If you’re not online when you install the software, you can complete the registration at a later date.

Have a Mac?

There are options for running ArcGIS on a Mac, but they do take a bit of setup, and you will need a licensed copy of Windows along with either Bootcamp or Parallels to run the software. Once installed however the software should run smoothly.

For more information on installing ArcGIS on a Mac, see this Esri page.

A couple of affordable USB options:

SanDisk Cruzer 8GB ( - $7.99

SanDisk Cruzer 16GB (Best Buy) - $9.99 Other Resources

Building GIS Capacity in Local and State Health Departments

The Children’s Environmental Health Initiative has assembled a nice collection of map products and analyses representing GIS capacity in State Health Departments:

Project Highlights from Phase I
Other Phases (2, 3, 4 and 5)

Looking for links, links, and more links?

Jim Tobias, a Sr. GIS Developer working for the CDC has compiled a number of excellent lists on Pearltrees that you can use as starting points to delve into a number of sources:

[Geographic Information Systems](
[Global Human Geography](
[Data Management](
[Open Data](