Public health faculty lead GIS workshop for students, community members

On November 24, students, faculty and community members gathered for the first annual Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Workshop sponsored by Syracuse University’s Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics. David Larsen, an assistant professor in the Department of Public Health, Food Studies and Nutrition, led the workshop as part of public health professor Sandra Lane’s research work in the area of neighborhood trauma and violence in Syracuse. In addition to Drs. Larsen and Lane, this research project includes Falk College faculty members Dessa Bergen-Cico, Colleen Baish, Linda Stone Fish, and Tracey Reichert-Schimpff along with Maxwell professor Robert A. Rubinstein. Community partners involved in the project include Timothy “Noble” Jennings-Bey, CEO and founder of the Street Addiction Institute for Behavioral Modification, as well as the founding director of the Syracuse Trauma Response Team, and Arnett Haygood-El who is a member of the Trauma Response Team. Student collaborators include Enaam Alali, Giovanni Bazile, Timothy Bryant, Reed Kamyszek and Shaundel Sanchez.

The workshop offered a hands-on approach to teaching the skill of map making, an integral part of generating community awareness and conducting epidemiological analyses for public health problems like violence. The Syracuse Police Department provided the location of all shots-fired incidents over the past five years, which the participants linked to census tract populations in the workshop and then mapped. The workshop was based on Quantum GIS, an open-source geographic information systems program that any student or participant can freely download for their machine.

The results from the workshop will be used during community meetings to discuss how best to respond to the issue of neighborhood trauma. The results will also be useful in applying for research funding and to publish in scientific journals.