Pandemic to Prospect: New Avenues of Human Geography

Pandemic has heated hard the entire world as well as the academic field. But the social researchers found new ways of doing research within this fatal situation also. Covid 19 itself has become one of the key issues of research in the gamut of human geography. New research topics have come up with high research potential.

The world is constantly struggling with the demonic Covid 19. Academicians are also the worriers who are constantly dealing with the pandemic situation with utter positivity. The whole world has been locked within the four walls of the abode. But the mind of man can roam about here and there without having any restrictions of lockdown. The researchers are among those people, whose minds are freely moving in the alleys of new research scopes. The researchers from different domains have proved that the problems can be transformed into possibilities with structured and designed thinking.

Human geographers are always concerned about the minute tribulations of society. The intricacies of human nature and its reflections are the focal theme of research for human geographers. In the pandemic situation, the entire subjectivity of the social response and bonding has been changed in so many ways that human geographers got plenty of new research topics in their purview of knowledge. The research works based on Covid 19 are not only focusing on the epidemiological dimensions of it but human responses towards the pandemic are playing a role of pivotal research interest. The community-based studies on the pandemic situation, deriving simulation models based on human behavioural changes within this pandemic situation, and sustainable planning practices (especially in urban setups) are some highly focused issues in the domain of human geography after the pandemic has trickled.

Human geography has taken a new turn during this pandemic situation. Researchers have taken their ideas into various dimensions where the pandemic has created an abyssal impact. The major trends within this pandemic are quite challenging and interesting.

  • Works on migration and mobility are the leading aspect to which most of the research work in human geography is being devoted.
  • Policy research is one of the major aspects of research in the domain of human geography which took a new momentum. Ample of scopes have been created in terms of policy research starting from fiscal policy review to health policy recommendations.
  • Changes in human-nature interaction and their changing dynamics with the ecological system are the very dynamic aspect of research in growing demand.
  • A new form of web-based crime has grown in this pandemic situation. This sort of criminological study has huge scope and relevance for the betterment of society.
geography
Source: Dimension Database, 2022

The number of publications regarding pandemics in the domain of human geography has reached new heights after 2020. The rise is quitter sterling. Looking at the graph, the uprising trend of research in human geography after the pandemic is quite evident. Smithsonian Institution of the United States is leading in this field of research in the arena of human geography regarding the pandemic.

 Adamas University is one of the eminent places for high-end research in India. Department of Geography has taken up research issues related to pandemics. This department has organized one international conference entitled “Health and Environment: Frontiers Ahead”. This conference was devoted to the research works from various domains on the Pandemic situation across the world. Students from the department of geography started preparing research articles on the impact of Covid on various aspects of human society.

Reference:

Roger Frutos, Laurent Gavotte, Jordi Serra-Cobo, Tianmu Chen, Christian Devaux (2021), COVID-19 and emerging infectious diseases: The society is still unprepared for the next pandemic, Environmental Research, Volume 202

https://app.dimensions.ai/

Know the Game: Augment your career with Skills, Competencies, and Expertise in the niche segment of Health Geo-Informatics

The WHO has taken pledge to help countries and partners in making informed public health choices more quickly and to spread geospatial knowledge throughout the organization by connecting maps, apps, data, and people. Because of this change in emphasis, organizations all around the world are depending more and more on location intelligence to make smarter public health decisions. Human services and health geoinformatics occupations are in greater demand than ever.

John Snow’s ground-breaking work serves as an example of the effectiveness of mapping and geographic systems in addressing the cholera pandemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) has a long history of analyzing spatial distribution and risk factor patterns, identifying, preventing, and controlling diseases, and enhancing the effectiveness of public health initiatives. Making timely and trustworthy judgments that have the potential to save many lives is made possible by using GIS to connect spatial representation and public health planning. To name a few, 15 of the 17 health-related SDGs rely on GIS, for example, by monitoring air, water quality, and sanitation, neglected tropical diseases (malaria, guinea worm, snake bites), Polio, as well as health emergencies. Geoinformatics is defined as an academic discipline or career of working with geographical data for better understanding and interpretation of human interaction with the earth’s surface. It encompasses several technologies, approaches, processes, and methods to interpret and discourse spatial questions that necessitate spatial sense to address it. ESRI comments that “Hundreds of thousands of organizations in virtually every field are using GIS to make maps that communicate, perform analysis, share information, and solve complex problems around the world. This is changing the way the world works.”

Geoinformatics – Future Science
Figure 1. Geoinformatics – Future Science (Conceptualized and compiled by Dr. Anu Rai)

With its underlying capacity, Geoinformatics is emerging as a billion-dollar industry and offers lucrative opportunities to its professionals and trainers. In order to promote better public health planning and decision-making, geospatial technology, namely Health Geoinformatics, offers spatial representation of data. It is a niche segment of Geoinformatics and has significant uses in the fields of medicine and global health, but many nations currently limited or no access to these advantages in order to improve their health information systems. However, in post pandemic era, WHO and partner countries aggressively acknowledge and recommend the application of Geoinformatics in addressing public health issues.  WHO has taken pledge to help countries and partners in making informed public health choices more quickly and to spread geospatial knowledge throughout the organization by connecting maps, apps, data, and people. The WHO GIS Centre for Health wants to have a direct and long-lasting influence on the public by increasing its engagement with partners. Supporting geospatial data and analytics to enhance adherence and stewardship with WHO Standard Operating Procedures for maps and Web GIS applications are a few examples of the specific services offered by WHO. The purpose of such services is to improve national, regional, and analytical data as well as the health information system in order to boost the Member States’ and Partners’ effective use of GIS. Because of this change in emphasis, organizations all around the world are depending more and more on location intelligence to make smarter public health decisions. Human services and health geoinformatics occupations are in greater demand than ever. In order to forecast and evaluate industry trends utilizing a range of data and pro-actively build solutions and messaging to address important issues, drivers, and challenges, health GIS analysts or public health solution managers work closely with teams in varied domains of public health, human services, hospitals, insurance, managed health care systems, and environmental health. Despite corporate and public jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities, GIS analysts are highly engaged in investigating, understanding, and developing new businesses in areas underserved or not currently served with GIS applications in the health and human services space. This creates a new field of opportunity for work with product development as a customer advocate for the requirements of the health and human services sector.

In my academic career as an educator of Geography and Geoinformatics, I have often noticed curiosity among youngsters about career opportunities with the Health Geography and Geoinformatics, irrespective of the discipline and domain of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees they hold. I would answer that if you are interested to play with the nuts and bolts of spatial health science, the Post Graduate Program on Geography and Geoinformatics is a good option for you. You may select diverse fields of Health Geoinformatics depending on the expertise of the domain varying from map making to app development. You can also opt for jobs in Public Health firms that include diverse skill-based jobs in the field of marketing development and testing and even entrepreneurship. Research-based course experience also opens huge job prospects in development and planning commission, scientists in HRD, and other research institutions in India and abroad. Application of neo-geographical tools, statistical algorithms, machine learning, multi-criterion decision-making techniques, computer-programming, SQLs, text-analytics and learning and practices of GIS and statistical packages that enable GI Scientists to solve the multifaceted real-life problem has opened extensive career opportunities to practitioners of geoinformatics in the field of public health data science as well. Health data scientists, data analysts, big data analysts, spatial data analysts, etc. are some of the lucrative jobs paying high salary packages to deserving candidates. So, if spatial logic of health attracts you, Health Geoinformatics is the best option to augment your career with skills, competencies, and expertise.

For such more examples you may also visit the sites of:

Applications of Machine Learning in Geography: Present and future trends

Machine learning is one word at present time machine learning can be defined as a system where computers can perform tasks that require human intervention and intelligence. Machine learning is part of artificial intelligence which is growing rapidly in the present era. Artificial intelligence (AI) is the broader umbrella of computer-driven applications where Human support is hardly required. Deep learning is a subset of machine learning. AI is also associated with the development and design of algorithms.  Artificial intelligence and machine learning have reduced the role of humans in many activities Like in industry public affairs research and academia. Geography as a discipline has also benefited from the applications of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning. Geographical information system Remote Sensing and GIScience as a whole get the benefit of machine learning which is termed GeoAI. Different organizations like the American Association of Geographers (AAG) in Environment System Research Institute (ESRI) and Microsoft are collaborating to develop a GeoAI-based platform for the analysis and visualization of different data. 

The advantage of machine learning algorithms lies in the fact that the algorithm can use the data pattern to train itself and come up with better predictive or classification solutions. Machine learning is classified into different groups supervised learning, unsupervised learning, Semi-supervised learning, and reinforced learning.

In recent years automation in geography and location-based study is taking place at a quick pace. Mechanisms to monitor different spheres (terrestrial, atmospheric, and aquatic) are growing at high speed. This leads to a large quantum of data availability of different types and formats. Machine learning is helping to analyze this data using different advanced algorithms like Support vector machine, Random Forest, Artificial neural network (ANN), or even one step ahead deep learning methods like Convolution Neural network (CNN) and dynamic learning methods like Q- Learning.

In the area of human geography, machine learning has been used to explore the distribution of products and goods, population genetics, detecting, characterizing, and evaluating human epidemiology, tourism projections, detecting military patterns, international politics, and agricultural production systems. Within physical geography, ML is used to advance research on environmental diversity, biogeography, and abundance, water resource management, climate modeling, climate change, etc.

In the Geographical Information System (GIS), users can use it to comprehend the spatial elements of their work and connect it to data such as population data. The GIS data can be utilized for a variety of reasons, including transportation, drought analysis, agricultural, disease outbreak analysis, land occupation, and so on. At the same time, GIS enables the storing of a large volume of data in a secure manner, as well as access to it at any time and on a rapid basis. So, the purpose of this chapter is to examine previous works and research in this area to better understand the current status and capabilities; also, it will be an attempt to prepare for future improvements in the field of GIS. 

There are also many challenges faced by machine learning in the part of lack of data and as well as the quality of data. Quality issues in machine learning lead to improper predictions and classification. As the technology is still evolving real-world complexities are sometimes mishandled by the algorithms. Ethical issues are very much prominent in countering human geographical contents. They’re also voids left for spatially explicit machine learning and other spatiotemporal models. This vacuum of Spatio-temporal models hinders the growth of machine learning applications in geography. 

In the future, machine learning will be more robust with advanced GeoAI algorithms which can encounter issues like handling large and complex data. More spatial explicit models and algorithms will be available to provide solutions to complex and multifaceted real-world problems. The emergence of automatic machine learning (AutoML) is showing the path for such a solution. In solving geographical problems of the future integration is required between the conceptualisation and implementation of models. As artificial intelligence has started touching down nearly all spheres of life, machine learning is going to play a key role in unlocking the different mysteries of nature near future.

Choosing career during challenging time!

What do we learn from a challenging situation like this? Well, one of the take-home messages for all of us that by taking appropriate measure one can fight an adverse situation and turn it into a favourable one. Likewise, you need to take charge of the career of the ward and turn it into a successful one. The definition of “success” being debatable, you all must try to do something which leaves footprints on the path of development of society through technological breakthroughs.

 What is the best in you?

 The most common question one face during his school days is probably “what do you want to become in your life?”. It is asked with the intention to support your career. The most common applauded answer is probably as per traditional mindset such as doctor or engineer. But is it the only question that one should ask? Let’s take a lesson from the life of accomplished people. If we look at the life of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Mahatma Gandhi, Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, Acharya J. C. Bose, Prof. C. V. Raman, Prof. Homi Bhabha, our president Dr A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, then we find they are all known for their work and contribution towards society. They are not merely recognized by the career they choose. It’s their intention and actions rather than career options. Whichever field you choose, making an impact is most important.

So, you can say to your child, “what do you want to do in your life” is a more basic and pertinent question rather than “what do you want to become in your life”. If you concentrate on that question and explore what you want to do in our life then it would tell you what stream you should choose, what career you should choose and many more.

It is not an easy question and takes time to find an answer. The most common guiding line by the seniors is “pursue your dreams”. But dreaming without full information about the future possibilities is not an option you should go for!! In today’s world, where the job market and job roles are changing so fast, you should choose a stream that offers flexibility. Flexibility in terms of further study areas and flexibility in the career options. Science is the only stream that has the potential and diversity to offer this much flexibility.

Why Basic Science still today?

I hope, there is no doubt whatsoever in anyone’s mind about the importance and usefulness of basic science, even today! In fact, all the aspects of the development of humankind is marked by the progress of science. Because today’s science will create tomorrow’s technology. So, the question is not really about the utility of science but the prospect of a career in science. Somehow one misconception is there in the mind of common people that there is a limited job available to students of science disciplines. But in reality, this is just the opposite. If you take the example of any advanced country then the economic model they are following is that of the knowledge economy.

This knowledge economy is propelled by the rapid advancement of scientific innovation. Rapid innovation in science is only possible if you have a skilled workforce capable of carrying out cutting edge scientific research. In India, slowly and steadily we are also moving towards a knowledge-based economy. That is why one can see every company has its own dedicated R&D wing which seeks to employ thousands of employees trained in science. India’s transition to a knowledge-based economy is also reflected through various government initiatives like Atal Innovation Mission, Startup India etc. But that is about the high-end job. Traditional jobs like jobs in the government sector, teaching job in schools, Colleges and Universities and private sectors mostly employ people from science background. So we can say if you are talking about a job in science then it is limited only by your imagination. The possibility is limitless.

School of Basic and Applied Science (SOBAS) at Adamas University is committed to delivering quality education in science and applied areas of Science and at the same time to create world-class scientific knowledge.

To meet our objectives, we have created an ecosystem that focuses on three main areas:

(i) Teaching-Learning pedagogy (ii)  Intellectual capital (iii) Infrastructure.

Let us briefly tell you about the features of these three areas:

(i) Process of delivering education:

  • Outcome-Based Education followed in major National and International Universities.
  • Choice Based Credit System for all programs.
  • Freedom to Choose an area of Specialization based on individual choice in Postgraduate program.
  • Regular monitoring of Syllabi by renowned external experts from Academia and Industry.
  • Learner-centric pedagogies.
  • Healthy Student-faculty ratio.
  • Equal attention to Theory as well Practical classes.
  • Uninterrupted class in every situation including pandemic (Online class, Smart Lab)
  • D2P: Every student (UG & PG) is encouraged to publish their dissertation in reputed peer-reviewed journals.
  • Academic & Industry Internship program in reputed organizations.
  • Number of Value Added Courses
  • Co-curricular Activities like National & International Conferences in Technical collaboration with reputed International Publishing Houses like IOPScience, Elsivier, Springer, AIP Publishing etc. , Seminars, Webinars, Field visits etc.
  • Various Extra-curricular Activities through different club activities like Writer’s club, Environmental Club, Film Club, Dance Club etc.
  • Adamas Comprehensive Excellence (ACE) scorecard to track the holistic growth & development of each student – regular monitoring by individual mentor
  • Special classes for competitive academic examinations (JAM, NET, GATE)
  • Special guidance for higher studies in abroad through Study Abroad Program
  • Special guidance for entrepreneurial & innovation activities through SOBAS Innovation & Incubation cell
  • Improvements of soft skills through various programs organized by Career Development Cell (CDC).
  • Regular career guidance and campus interviews organized by Career Development Cell
  • Single window grievance cell for students through SOBAS care.

(ii) Intellectual capital

  • Experienced Faculty Members with specializations in a wide range of Science & Applied science subjects.
  • Publication with major International journals
  • Experience in conducting high-quality research in India & abroad.
  • Experience in conducting sponsored research from Government agencies & Industry.
  • Regular update of knowledge through various Faculty Development programs, online courses.
  • Knowledge exchange and research collaboration through physical/online seminars, academic visits

(iii) Infrastructure

  • Smart Classroom with projector facilities
  • State of the Art Laboratories
  • High-End Computation Facility with many software like Mathematica, Matlab, R, Python, QGIS, SAGA, GIS, tnt MIPS etc.
  • The flexibility of conducting activities through online/offline mode.
  • Digital infrastructure like Canvas, Smart Lab, TCSion, Microsoft Teams, digital tablets etc.

Currently, we are running our programs through six domains – Chemistry, Environmental Science, Forensic sciences, Geography, Mathematics & Physics. Various Undergraduate, Postgraduate and Doctoral courses offered by these departments can be accessed through our website – https://science.adamasuniversity.ac.in/. Also, any queries regarding our school can be addressed to sobascare@adamasuniversity.ac.in.

Finally, to all our prospective students we would like to say, we harvest knowledge in its pure form, come join us in our quest and try to make a difference in tomorrow’s world!