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.

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