The prerequisite for using geographic information systems (GIS) is the availability of information on locations, the attributes of those locations, and the functional and geographic relationships among locations. The diversity of spatial data and analytical methods available to demographic researchers is wide and continues to expand. Many research and policy questions faced by demographers require analysis of complex patterns of interrelated social, behavioral, economic, and environmental phenomena. These questions inevitably involve different types of analytical units and emerging data formats used in formal spatial analysis, including point data, line data, spatial continuous or field data, and area or lattice data. To address these questions, it is increasingly argued that both spatial thinking and spatial analytical perspectives have an important role to play.
The GIA Core’s contribution to population research mirrors the trends in geospatial data collection and utilization. The GIA Core staff stays abreast of technological development in GIS, spatial analysis, and spatial statistics, and offers resources that will allow demographers to take advantage of new kinds of data services and analytical tools to generate new knowledge and investigate research questions with a spatial perspective.