Thursday, 27 February 2014

Using a free health GIS website in the classroom

Over the last few lessons my Year 12 Geography class at Wilmington Grammar (WG6) have been using a free GIS website to investigate local patterns in health.  This fits nicely into the AQA AS level spec which requires us to investigate patterns of mortality (death) and morbidity (disease) in a local area.  Back in December we had already investigated how quality of life varies in 3 contrasting parts of Dartford (inner city, suburbs, rural-urban fringe).  Students used the census data via the neighbourhood statistics website and had collected socio-economic data on the residents in order to infer quality of life in these areas.

Today we used the LOCAL HEALTH website, produced by Local Health England.  Some particularly fantastic aspects of this site is that it's free so there is no need to load expensive software and that it integrates Bing or OS open source mapping which enables a clearer view of geographical patterns.

Here's a quick guide on how we used it.
1) Log on to the website.

 2) Click on Find my area and enter the name of your local authority e.g. Dartford.  Then select Ward (2011) as your geographic level. This will give you a map of your area.
3) Click on Bing Maps to add your mapping layer. Then click on 'add data to map' on the top left.

 4) This then gives you 4 tiers of data. We could start investigating health by looking at levels of health (T4 category)

 5) You then get a choice of maps.  I selected Life expectancy males. Make sure the Ward (2011) is selected. Click on the and voila!

 6) To find more amazing information click on the reports tab in the selection box.  Then click on 'Detailed reports' which unlocks more data

7) In the detailed report there is a menu where you can select deprivation, population, health-related behaviours etc to really understand the reasons for the geographical variations.  There are even graphs comparing this ward to the English average!  Happy GIS'ing!