What is Spatial Informatics?

Spatial informatics is a newly created field that uses geospatial data to perform evaluations and support problem solving activities in many disciplines, such as education, marketing, health care and environmental sustainability. Spatial-based informatics professionals need training in math, engineering and computer science in order to skillfully solve large-scale, localized problems through complex mountains of data.

Spatial-based Informatics

Spatial-based informatics refers to an interdisciplinary field that involves spatial modeling methods, analysis applications and data management. That is, the principles of big data and advanced informatics and information systems are combined to identify patterns and suggest solutions. Researchers and scientists are relying on spatial analysis and informatics to tackle extremely complicated, multi-scale problems that use Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Spatial models are now a standard component of scientific discoveries, published papers and executive decision-making. Academic and business fields that are embracing spatial analysis and informatics include engineering, epidemiology, urban planning and the environmental sciences. Anyone who wants to work with spatial-based informatics will need at least a graduate level degree and advanced training.

The Spatial Sciences

Because the field of spatial sciences is relatively new, the expected academic program outcomes are quite broad. Graduate level programs aim to endow graduates with the technical skills and knowledge that is needed to understand and positively contribute to projects that positively impact the public. These programs teach students about data security, integrity, scalability, architecture and distribution. Most programs focus on the applications and principles of data informatics and geographic information sciences (GIS). Some lean towards the business world and focus on enterprise information analytics and intelligence. Others concentrate on using data solutions to solve technical and engineering problems.

A Master’s Degree in Spatial Analytics

Graduate level spatial analytics programs will provide students with a foundation in information analysis and engineering. Students are taught spatial thinking models and techniques, so they will be able to optimize data processes and understand the overall field of data analytics. After graduation, students will know how to leverage data management and visualization techniques in order to analyze and apply solutions to real world problems.

Learning artificial intelligence tools, such as data mining and machine learning, are critical to the success of any analysis projects. These programs will feature coursework in spatial computing, which involves advanced software systems and methods, as well as classes on spatial databases, which teach students how to design and manage object-oriented geospatial databases.

Career Highlight

The data driven world of health care is using spatial analysis and informatics to take on local and national problems. Public health professionals, such as epidemiologists and disease control experts, use Geographic Information Systems to research localized problems and develop effective management frameworks. Using large-scale, location-based health data has been a standard tool for epidemiologists for at least a hundred years, but they now can complete data gathering in just a few days. Public health experts strive to understand the geographic patterns and variables that connect people, diseases and well-being. These spatial-based professionals will most likely obtain a specialized master’s degree in geographic informatics.

Spatial informatics plays an important role in maintaining and improving the public’s health and the community’s well-being.