While some social workers may also be trained geographers, often we have only the time to learn the most basic concepts about geographic information science (GIS). The purpose of this workshop is to expose researchers to intuitive web based and desktop solutions for analysis that may be used for advocacy, community assessment, evaluation, classroom use, or research.
The first part of the workshop workshop will show users the latest sources for online mapping and data such as ESRI's ArcGIS Online and various government open data portals. These open data portals include information from different systems such as public safety, health, schools, environment, as well as population data. Users may visualize data and save maps on their own website, or download data for use by a desktop application. Users may also stream the data into desktop software (e.g., MS Excel, R, Tableau Public, QGIS) so that the map updates automatically as the data in the cloud updates.
The second part of the workshop will show how to combine different layers of data using QGIS 3.24, a free and open source desktop GIS client. Combining layers of data can support decision making. For example, various states allocate funding to different geographic areas based on a formula (e.g., Older Adult Funding, Infrastructure Funding). Adding or multiplying normalized attributes of places (e.g., social vulnerability, health risks) can support targeting interventions by showing areas with more resources or risks. This process is called a utility-based framework. Participants will learn how to join together tables of information at different geographic levels (e.g., zip codes, census tracts, cities, counties or states) so that they may those data may be displayed graphically or analyzed. Time permitting, I will demonstrate functions such as turning a list of addresses into a set of points (i.e., geocoding), or displaying the distance from a point (i.e., buffer), or spatial statistics (e.g., spatial autocorrelation) that can also be used to find an optimal location for services or outreach.
The workshop will be primarily a demonstration. The instructors will give attendees a chance to install QGIS, and workshop data on their laptops so people may follow along. The workshop does not assume prior knowledge of GIS. The workshop will be interactive and provide an opportunity for colleagues to share research and take requests on how to solve geographic problems with their data.