GIS is a powerful tool to represent straight out facts visually. But also a tool that can be used to rise new questions. The application is particularly useful in mixed method approach of a research study.
For example, CDC produced the following data and map on the rates of HIV diagnosis among adults and adolescents.
The maps show the distribution of new HIV cases being higher in the west, the northeast and the south. It shows states of Florida, Georgia, Nevada, Louisiana, and DC are among the top five. These facts among few other obvious ones show the observatory power of maps.
The map also leads to so many research questions :
- Is there a cultural factor that influences high rates in Nevada, given it has a very indigenous cultural makeup?
- What do Alabama and Mississippi do better to control the rates, when they are the geographical adjacents to LA and GA.
- Are there specific policies in DC that help people with HIV lead a better life – policies that help them deal with the stigma.
The are few questions among many that the map brings out.
Hence GIS can be used to represent data but also can be used as a tool to form research questions in mixed method analysis.