Geography/GIS describes the geographical setting of a risk assessment case.
A geographic information system (GIS) is a system for capturing, storing, analyzing and managing data and associated attributes which are spatially referenced to the earth. In the strictest sense, it is a computer system capable of integrating, storing, editing, analyzing, sharing, and displaying geographically-referenced information. In a more generic sense, GIS is a tool that allows users to create interactive queries (user created searches), analyze the spatial information, edit data, maps, and present the results of all these operations.
Spatial data and descriptive statistics There are several potential difficulties associated with the analysis of spatial data, among these are boundary delineation, modifiable areal units, and the level of spatial aggregation or scale. In each of these cases, the absolute descriptive statistics of an area - the mean, median, mode, standard deviation, and variation - are changed through the manipulation of these spatial problems.
Boundary delineation The location of a study area boundary and the positioning of internal boundaries affect various descriptive statistics. With respect to measures such as the mean or standard deviation, the study area size alone may have large implications; consider a study of per capita income within a city, if confined to the inner city, income levels are likely to be lower because of a less affluent population, if expanded to include the suburbs or surrounding communities, income levels will become greater with the influence of homeowner populations. Because of this problem, absolute descriptive statistics such as the mean, standard deviation, and variance should be evaluated comparatively only in relation to a particular study area. In the determination of internal boundaries this is also true, as these statistics may only have valid interpretations for the area and subarea configuration over which they are calculated.
Modifiable areal units In many cases the subdivision of spatial data has already been determined, this is evident in demographic datasets, as the available information will be grouped into their respective counties or municipalities. For this type of data, analysts must use the same county or municipal boundaries delineated in the collected data for their subsequent analysis. When alternate boundaries are possible, an analyst must take into account that any new subdivision model may create different results.
Spatial aggregation/scale problem Socio-economic data may be available at a variety of scales, for example: municipalities, regional districts, census tracts, enumeration districts, or at the provincial/state level. When this data is aggregated at different scales, the resulting descriptive statistics may exhibit variations, either in a systematic, predictable way, or in a more uncertain fashion. If we are observing economic data, we may notice a distinct reduction in manufacturing productivity for a country (the USA) over a certain period; since this is a general model, individual states may experience these effects differently. The result of this aggregation is that the standard deviation of the data in question is increased due to the variability among states.
--Clivesabel 15:57, 15 March 2007 (EET)
- Wikipedia's comprehensive GIS entry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geographic_information_system
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