Handbooks of Research Methods and Applications series
Edited by Charlie Karlsson, Martin Andersson and Therese Norman
Chapter 5: Analysis using geographic information systems
This chapter discusses the use of geographic information systems (GIS) in economic geography. It begins with an overview of what geographic information is, and why a special type of system is required to analyse it. Next follows a preliminary review of the science of geographic problem solving, and the ways in which GIS can be used to understand not only the way the world looks (e.g. through measurement and representation of spatial location patterns), but also the ways in which the world works (e.g. as the outcome of spatial interaction and flows). Following a short overview of the components that make up a GIS, we then consider the ways in which GIS can be used to measure, monitor and evaluate economic systems that are becoming all-pervasive and increasingly sentient, and we assess some of the problems and pitfalls that may arise in the management of apparently ubiquitous geographic information. These issues are illustrated by taking the development of geodemographics – the analysis of people by where they live – as an important application area in economic geography. GIS provide a valuable applied problem-solving tool in a range of applications in economic geography, and bring economic issues into sharp focus alongside environmental, social and demographic issues.
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