Brainstorming the Policy Ramifications of Health GIS: Summarizing Policy and Technical Next-Steps towards Operationalizing Health Geoinformatics

  • David A. Hastings United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific


A plenary brainstorming session gathered several visionary thinkers from the research, policymaking, health-care and GIS services sectors. Following statements of their own, they (and the audience)discussed questions and comments from the audience. The consensus was that geographical information systems (GIS) and remote sensing had demonstrated value to support improved health care in many cases beyond their own expectations. They noted that people in research, health-care public and commercial services had an opportunity to make great progress toward globally benefiting peoples with operational adaptations of such technology. However, major gaps in awareness still existed mostly among health services policymakers, and the many health care professionals who were still largely unaware of the readiness of such approaches to deliver positive results now. Participants noted imperfections in data, information, and some current applications - but noted that improvements would come with additional time, greater awareness by policymakers, and engagement with operational medical services. One might draw an analogy with early anatomical spatial data methodologies/devices like X-rays and ultrasound. Though imperfect, they revolutionized the delivery of health care once the public, and policymakers, realized their significance.