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The International Association of Chinese Professionals in Geographic Information Sciences (CPGIS) and the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the American Association of Geographers are organizing a high-end international forum entitled “Fostering International Geospatial Health Research Collaborations: Challenges and Opportunities” The application of geospatial analysis in public health studies and practice has demonstrated great potential and drawn unprecedented attention from academia and government. The goal of this forum is threefold: 1) to review the development of this area, including its concepts, theories, methodologies, and applications; 2) to suggest a future agenda for research and practice based on this review; and 3) to bring together leaders in research and decision makers to examine pathways forward to enhancing international collaboration and to build an international research network. The invited speakers are all prominent scholars and governmental officials with considerable experience in research and practice on GIScience and public health.

The forum will have the following plenary sessions:

  1. Spatial analysis of infectious diseases and their relations to climate change
    Outbreaks of infectious diseases, such as H7N9, SARS, West Nile, and Lyme disease, became a major public and governmental concern. Many of these diseases are related to the contemporary global climate change. Identifying, tracking, and predicting spatiotemporal dynamics of these diseases and studying their associations with climate change are topics in which geospatial analysis is essential.

  2. Exposure to health risk/pollution and their impacts on health
    Geospatial analysis and mapping are important tools in environmental health studies and practice for identifying, evaluating, and presenting environmental risk factors. These risk factors are by nature geographic, such as air pollution, water pollution, and soil pollution in the physical environment, and income, education, and ethnic composition in the socioeconomic environment.

  3. Built environment, accessibility and health
    Besides those conventionally considered environmental risk factors such as pollution, features of the built environment such as land-use mix, urban design, neighborhood walkability, and availability of various transport modes also have considerable associations with residents’ health status (e.g., risk of obesity). This is a topic important around the world, partly because it is often related to issues like social and environmental justice. This kind of studies often requires detailed geospatial data and analysis. High-resolution remotely sensed data and mobile data acquisition devices have greatly facilitated such studies.

  4. Accessibility of healthcare services and its optimization
    Accessibility of healthcare services is a major target of health system reforms in both the United States and China. This kind of accessibility is complicated. Geographic accessibility measured by travel distance or travel time is an important component of the overall accessibility and has to be dealt with using geospatial.

  5. Development of statistical and computational methodologies for public health research in the era of Big Data and cyberGIS
    Geographers have been working long on developing statistical and computational methodologies for disease mapping (cluster detection, smoothing, etc.), spatial association detection, and spatial uncertainty evaluation. New technologies in data acquisition, data mining, computation, and interoperability bring about great new possibilities to this area.

  6. Building an International research network - Research Agenda and Policy
    In the context of globalization and global climate change, public health is no longer a local and short-term issue for different regions around the world. Geography brings new perspectives, ideas, and methods to this area, and GIS provides powerful tools to enhance our capabilities to assemble and analyze relevant space-time data that shed new light on complex public health issues. The research and practice in this area are highly policy-relevant and inevitably international.  This international panel will explore how to build an international research network.

Organizers and sponsors

  • Institute of Space and Earth Information Science, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • Faculty of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong
  • Department of Land Surveying and Geo-Informatics, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
  • Association of American Geographers
  • Department of Geography and Resource Management, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • The International Association of Chinese Professionals in Geographic Information Science

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