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Background: After Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana State University (LSU) collaborated with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to create the LSU GIS Clearinghouse Cooperative (LGCC) to disseminate geospatial data. From this experience of serving community geospatial data needs for risk communication, particularly in marginalized areas, and through working with the World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Remote Sensing and GIS for Public Health (WHOCC), we identified several useful geospatial technologies (GT) and methods for their implementation in risk communication strategies.
Objectives: This article provides an assessment of the benefits and limitations of these technologies for risk communication in marginalized communities.
Methods: Several GT have been employed for risk communication and general data dissemination in communities throughout rural coastal Louisiana. From experimentation with these technologies for risk communication, they can be classed into three groups: lightweight GIS, map dissemination tools, and interactive GT.
Results: Lightweight GIS and map dissemination tools will, at some point in their application, require the assistance of a GIS expert or GIS data provider to develop and customize the tool for its intended uses. Interactive GT, however, has rapidly developed options that allow user-friendly operation without reliance on expert assistance. Google Maps, however, is showing the greatest potential for community-based health participation.
Conclusions: Classifying the available GT based on functionality is critical to help specialists provide the most effective method for spatial risk communication and to assist community users in creating accessible data for their local health needs.