In 2001 in Atlanta, people were calling public health agencies to report the locations of dead birds. Concern about the spread of West Nile virus in the metropolitan area spurred public health officials to form a regional working group called Metro Atlanta Public Health GIS (MAPH GIS). The problem is that the districts were gathering data individually and missing the bigger picture. Eventually it was figured that when you map clusters of where those dead birds are found, you start getting a picture of what’s going on, but it was only until you pull all the regional maps together, that you will see a pattern. For instance, right on the border of a county, it may not look like much, but when you combine counties, you see it. After working together and putting information together, officials were able to forecast West Nile virus activity by dead bird clusters.
For more information on the GIS improvements in Atlanta, please read the article here.
Melissa Lawrence, Rutgers Student Intern, VERTICES, LLC