Geospatial Science and Technology Focus Areas
We apply geospatial tools, techniques and data to a wide range of research in support of health, economic, and social policy. Collaborating closely with experts in public health, health economics, health care quality, and other fields, we apply geospatial data integration and analysis to discover geographic relationships among data that would be difficult or impossible to find otherwise.
We convert and integrate survey, health, and economic data into geospatial formats, and we analyze and map social policy data. We integrate research data with standardized census demographics and commercial databases to help researchers and clients understand and develop solutions to difficult health, economic, and social policy issues.
Our geospatial scientists collaborate with epidemiologists to integrate geospatial data and analysis throughout epidemiological research projects. We devise appropriate methods of collecting locational data that meet the accuracy and precision needs of epidemiological studies. Geospatial science is also used to ensure that the spatial characteristics of many types of epidemiological data are accurate.
Using expertise in geospatial database design, we created synthesized human and livestock population databases to support agent-based infectious disease modeling. The resulting national-level databases are the basic infrastructure for simulating infectious disease outbreaks and analyzing mitigation strategies, which support decisions for applying limited resources for pandemic preparedness.
We develop innovative spatial-temporal web-mapping applications to display time-varying bio-surveillance data. These customized web-based animation tools allow researchers to understand the geospatial nature of disease surveillance data over time and space. Using new technologies and innovative interface design, we provide easy-to-use, yet still powerful interfaces for displaying and animating complex time-varying data.
We have a long track record in applying geospatial technologies in survey research applications. To ensure that field staff collect survey data according to statistical sample designs, we develop automated mapping systems to generate high volumes (tens of thousands) of maps to get field workers to the correct locations.
We employ automated techniques and a variety of visual inspection and interactive interface tools to accommodate the diverse geographies found across the U.S. We have conducted primary research into the use of GPS, mailing lists, and other means of performing traditional ‘counting and listing’ tasks associated with large surveys. These efforts have produced scientifically valid statistics on the relative accuracy of different survey techniques, which will support the design and development of future surveys.
We use geospatial tools and technologies in support of a variety of criminological studies. For example, we integrated police department data with detailed parcel-level boundaries of public housing developments to calculate crime rates within and around public housing and compare them with city-wide crime rates. In another study, we tracked gun-related crimes using specialized geospatial data layers to help district attorneys evaluate programs for reducing the use of firearms in crime in various jurisdictions. In both cases, high-quality maps helped public safety officials make informed decisions about resource allocation and strategy.
We also apply GIS in support of program evaluation research. GIS technologies are used to integrate demographic, social capital, infrastructure, crime, economic, and environmental data to compare within-site and across-site success in meeting the goals of federally-funded programs such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ‘s Home Ownership Zone program and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Weed and Seed program.
Our geospatial research staff design, develop, and manage GIS resources for use in international health, governance, and education projects. We work with a variety of existing GIS databases, supplanted with data collected in local field operations, to support international monitoring and evaluation projects, educational development, and local government.
We also assist with geospatial capacity building by
- Planning and budgeting for GIS activities and programs for both routine operations and proposal development
- Identifying, developing and implementing GIS-related training and professional development programs
- Managing and administering GIS operations
- Developing, planning, and implementing stand-alone and network-based GIS installations
- Optimizing spatial data management practices
We create custom GIS tools to meet client needs for environmental information. Our expertise includes
- Geospatial database and data systems design
- Web mapping applications
- Geospatial data development, integration, and synthesis
- Environmental modeling
- Data mining
Our GIS services support multi-tiered applications throughout the life-cycle, from conceptualization to deployment. We bring our experience designing and developing complex geospatial databases to ensure that the complex nature of spatio-temporal, multi-dimensional environmental data are properly modeled and managed.
Read more about how we apply our GIS expertise to the Models of Infectious Disease Agent Study (MIDAS) program for the National Institutes of Health.
Our geospatial scientists work closely with air and water quality researchers to manage air and water data and to develop geospatial analysis and modeling methods in support of air and water quality research. We have substantial experience using federal air and water monitoring databases, including those that manage information on criteria pollutants, air toxics, PM10, PM2.5, emissions inventories, ambient air modeling networks, 305(b), 303(d), and total maximum daily load.
We employ standard geospatial analysis techniques and develop new and innovative methods for specialized air and water quality research. Areas of particular strength include
- Integration and analysis of air dispersion and air deposition models in geospatial environments
- Use of large-scale surface water flow analysis and modeling techniques, developed for use with national geospatial hydrography databases such as the National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) and NHDPlus
We developed the automated procedures used to conflate and integrate the U.S. Geological Survey’s digital line graph-enhanced hydrography layer with EPA’s Reach File Version 3 hydrography layer to produce the initial NHD. We also developed the complex visual/manual editing software used to check and correct errors in the automated procedures.
We have developed many desktop and Web-based systems to collect, manage, analyze, and disseminate complex national water datasets for EPA, including the Drinking Water Mapping Application and the PC-based and Web-based Reach Indexing Tools.
We use geospatial tools to collect, integrate, and analyze the wide variety of data necessary to properly characterize and assess the potential impacts of environmental and human health stressors. To accommodate the multimedia nature of risk assessments, we use geospatial data and analysis techniques for land, air, and water impacts and for population-based risk impacts.
Geospatial data and analysis techniques are integral to several of the multimedia models we develop, including the Multimedia, Multipathway, Multireceptor Risk Assessment (3MRA) model and the Data for Environmental Modeling (D4EM) tool. We apply geospatial science to define the underlying data and analysis needs and the user interface requirements to build robust geospatial tools for conducting and evaluating environmental and health risks.