It seems like nearly every year news stations and media outlets will bombard the airwaves revealing a deadly disease, causing slight pandemonium and an increase in the demand for hand sanitizer. Whether it is the epidemic of Swine Flu in 2009 or the Ebola outbreak of 2015, it seems we can always count on a global health crisis regularly enough to keep us on our toes.
One of the more recent and close-to-home outbreaks was the measles virus, which has since been traced back to Disneyland in 2015. The outbreak, originating in California, affected 130 people, according to the state Department of Public Health, as well as over a dozen others who fell ill in states other than California. Due to vaccination exemptions becoming increasingly accepted, the chance of contracting and spreading highly contagious diseases has been on the rise. So what does GIS have to do with any of these life-threatening diseases?
Esri, a frontrunner in GIS technology, has begun the creation and implementation of several maps that present an easy-to-understand picture of how highly contagious diseases spread. Using the measles example in Disneyland, GIS maps were able to track where the disease spread across the US after initial exposure while simultaneously displaying vaccination rates by state and the rules/rates for vaccination exemptions by state. Through this process, a detailed map was created showcasing areas where reported cases occurred as well as proximity areas that were susceptible to larger outbreaks.
The mapping of highly contagious diseases is just one example of how the implementation of GIS can be used for more than the management of assets or site development. Esri aims to find more practical ways that GIS can be used in health and human services.