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URISA's GIS and Health Symposium

URISA is pleased to present this symposium to explore the many uses of GIS for public health access, processes, and decision-making.  The conference was developed as a result of a high level of interest in the 'public health program track' presented at URISA's annual conference for several years.  A dedicated committee of well-known and respected professionals in the field have spearheaded this effort to create a specialty educational event to promote sharing of information and networking within the Public Health & GIS community. The inaugural conference took place in May 2007 in New Orleans.  In 2009, the conference was presented in Providence, Rhode Island; in 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia; Miami in June 2013; and in Washington DC in 2016. It is guided and organized by an esteemed group of professionals.  Without their expertise and enthusiasm, this conference would not be possible. 

UPDATE: Instead of hosting a stand-alone GIS and Health Symposium, we have instead integrated a GIS in Health & Human Services focus into our annual conference in recent years. The track has been quite popular. The intention is to bring more attention to the important topic to then host a stand-alone event again in the near future.

URISA Webinar: GIS and Public Health

When — Wednesday, November 6 (2PM Eastern/1PM Central/12Noon Mountain/11AM Pacific)

Overview — As spatial analysis software increased in sophistication while hardware costs decreased in the 1980s and 90s, GIS spread into many industries. Health and emergency services fields were no exception, and the last part of the 1990s saw the first publication of health GIS texts and epidemiological software.

Though this talk will provide a brief history of mapping disease and major technological improvements over time, the primary focus will be on the current and predicted use of GIS and other data analysis tools to identify health threats, track the spread of diseases and monitor conditions across the globe. Though prediction of future improvements can be both challenging and embarrassing, an examination of trends in artificial intelligence and machine learning provide clues to the direction that spatial analysis for public health and other sectors is heading.

Presenter — Bernadette de Leon, PhD, GISP, Indiana University, Bloomington, Director, School of Public Health-Bloomington IT Services, Bloomington, IN  Website 

Bernadette de Leon has been a certified GISP since 2013. In her job as IT director at the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington (SPH-B), she supports academic computing as well as spatial analysis for researchers. Additionally, she has developed and taught several undergraduate- and graduate-level GIS courses at SPH-B and IU's School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA).

Her practical GIS experience began as a graduate student in SPEA, which led her to work as a GIS Specialist at the US Fish and Wildlife Service Indiana Field Office in Bloomington. Her teaching and support for the USFWS biologists’ work led to her current job as director of the IU School of Public Health in Bloomington. As an IT manager, her interest in GIS has been woven into her support for those teaching future epidemiologists and public health officials.

Thanks for a fantastic presentation Dr. de Leon!

View Webinar

Presentation Slides

2016 Symposium: In partnership with the American Public Health Association (APHA), URISA presented the 2016 GIS and Health Symposium in Washington DC. The theme for the Symposium was “Mapping the Way to Healthy Communities”.  

Symposium Schedule - details about sessions, workshops, speakers and events. 

Certification Credits: The Symposium was approved for up to 13 CPH credits by the American Public Health Association and  36.25 AICP-CM credits by the American Institute of Certified Planners. In addition, attendance at the Symposium counts toward education points for GIS professional certification or renewal (GISP).  

Thank you to our Symposium Sponsors!


Symposium Committee

The 2016 GIS and Health Symposium is directed by a phenomenal group of professionals who volunteer their expertise, time and enthusiasm to the production of this event. 

Symposium Chair: Teresa Townsend, AICP (Planning Communities, Raleigh, NC)

  • Stephen Berry, GISP (Clark County, KY)
  • Andrew Curtis, PhD (Kent State University)
  • Bernadette deLeon, PhDc (Indiana University)
  • Este Geraghty, MD, MS, MPH, CPH, FACP, GISP (Esri, Redlands, CA)
  • Timothy E. Gibbs, MPH (Delaware Academy of Medicine and the Delaware Public Health Association)
  • Wansoo Im, PhD (Vertices & Rutgers University)
  • Carl Kinkade, GISP (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA)
  • Russell Kirby, PhD, MS (University of South Florida)
  • Imelda Moise, PhD, MPH (University of Miami, FL)
  • Marilyn O’Hara Ruiz, PhD (University  of Illinois)
  • Alyssa Randall (Planning Communities, Raleigh, NC)
  • Kate Robb (American Public Health Association, Washington, DC)
  • Liora Sahar, PhD, GISP (American Cancer Society, Atlanta, GA)
  • Ann Steedly, P.E. (Planning Communities, Raleigh, NC)
  • Jim Tobias, MSc, GISP (Northrup Grumman/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA)

Conference Partners

URISA - The Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) is an independent, not-for-profit 501c(3) organization established in 1966. URISA fosters excellence in GIS through its programs, guiding and supporting GIS professionals throughout their careers. www.urisa.org 

APHA - APHA champions the health of all people and all communities. We strengthen the public health profession. We speak out for public health issues and policies backed by science. We are the only organization that influences federal policy, has a 140-plus year perspective and brings together members from all fields of public health. www.apha.org 

View 2013 Conference Program

Conference History 

Conference Vision: To provide an open and participatory forum for  advancing the effective use of spatial information and geographic information systems technologies across the domains of public health, healthcare and community health preparedness.


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