Mapping for Health Advocates

The Opportunity Agenda, with support from the Health Policy Institute at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, commissioned a series of papers examining the effectiveness of web based mapping, and the role it can play in promoting health equity. Offering scholarly, practical, technical, and historical perspectives on the usefulness of mapping, health advocates can deepen their understanding of this powerful and persuasive tool.

In each report, case studies and best practices are presented. Looking across disciplines and at a wide range of social justice issues, advocates learn how maps can break down the complex data and research, developing visual aids that uncover the structural and social barriers that stand in the way of opportunity.

Since John Snow first published his map identifying the source of London's 1853 cholera epidemic, health advocates have been using maps to tell their story in a new and persuasive way. Advances with geographic information systems (GIS) have allowed developers to pull information from a large data set. This frees an unimaginable wealth of information right at their fingertips. Fuse this with the rise of engaging new and social media on the Internet, and the power to advocate effectively increases exponentially.

Interactive and GIS mapping holds many great benefits. At the core is room for organizations to work and collaborate together. Once the basic technical and data rich infrastructure has been set in place, the only thing left is the imagination.

Pulling from their own expertise, the authors in this volume present best practices and address the technical issues that need to be overcome in making these tools become even more widely used. Demand is a driving force in shaping how technology is used, and what tools will withstand the test of time. It is for this reason that we hope the reports found on this page will best familiarize you with this engaging technology, and provide you with the knowledge and desire that collectively can help us break down the barriers to health inequity in our country.