Applied Spatial Analysis and Policy, 5 pp 353-355
As evidenced by a burgeoning literature base in the last two decades, there has been a significant increase in the number of studies that have demonstrated the use of geospatial technologies in a range of health application areas. Notwithstanding such research efforts the jury is arguably still out on whether this has led to wider implementations of GIS that address specific operational and strategic tasks within health organisations. At the same time, recent disasters and emergencies have highlighted how GIS can be used to respond (often in real time) to sometimes catastrophic events and in so doing help save lives and aid recovery attempts. Almost inevitably this has led in an increasing amount of attention being given in academic circles that draw on research studies to highlight how such efforts can benefit from applying newer technologies based on spatial tools. This is reflected in several recently published texts which describe (often prototype) implementations as well as the staging of targeted conference events that are specifically aimed at demonstrating the potential for such techniques and at highlighting wider lessons based on their use in recent disasters such as those in the US, Haiti, Pakistan and China. Applications included in this book are at the interface of these two domains and hence it is claimed that “this is the first one to bring together a comprehensive discussion of the critical role GIS plays in hospital and healthcare emergency management and disaster response”. Leaving aside this claim for a moment, there is a lot to commend in the contributions contained within this volume, both in terms of the range of application areas covered in different phases of the disaster planning/management cycle and in the documentation of studies that highlight some of the lessons to be the learnt from the use of geospatial techniques in previous events such as influenza outbreaks, flooding and firestorms.