GIS Capacity Building Project Makes A Difference

The CDC’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD) and the Children’s Environmental Health Initiative (CEHI) at the University of Notre Dame have worked together for more than 10 years to provide Geographic Information Systems (GIS) training for state and local health departments.

GIS Training

The GIS Capacity Building Project includes several forms of GIS training (webinars, in-person training opportunities, and online modules), ongoing support from expert GIS analysts, development of new GIS tools to support mapping at the local level, and networking among health department staff interested in using GIS to address chronic disease. Trainings include didactic sessions, hands-on exercises, access to GIS experts, and the completion of map projects specific to your health department.

Training topics include but are not limited to: 

  • Introduction to ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS Online
  • GIS Training for the Surveillance of Heart Disease, Stroke, and Other Chronic Diseases
  • Advanced GIS Training for Blood Pressure Medication Adherence
  • GIS Rate Stabilization Tool

Information about upcoming GIS training opportunities is available at the Children’s Environmental Health Initiative at the University of Notre Dame. 

The Value of GIS in Chronic Disease Prevention

Partners and Policies

Informed Decision-Making

Upstream Public Health

Sustaining and Expanding Chronic Disease GIS Capacity

The GIS Hallmarks, endorsed by NACDD’s Cardiovascular Health Councilare a compilation of key policies and practices that maximize the benefits of GIS for chronic disease prevention and health promotion.

The GIS Hallmarks are organized into three categories:

  1. Building and Supporting a GIS-Savvy Workforce
  2. Building GIS Use into Chronic Disease Prevention Work
  3. Building GIS-Ready Tools and Resources

GIS enhances the capacity of State Health Departments to design and implement programs focused on heart disease and stroke prevention and aligns with priorities of CDC-RFAs DP18-1815, DP18-1817, and Million Hearts®.

The 2020 NACDD Virtual Public Health Showcase included a presentation about the GIS Hallmarks.

Maps of chronic disease, especially when combined with community characteristics (e.g., demographics, socioenvironmental conditions, the built environment, access to health care), are powerful tools for effectively and efficiently reducing the burden of chronic disease. Health department staff are using chronic disease maps to: 

    • Document the geographic patterns of chronic disease,
    • Inform resource allocation and policy,
    • Develop culturally competent programs, and
    • Assist with program planning, monitoring, and evaluation.

Health departments can maximize the use of their chronic disease maps by developing plans for map-based translation and dissemination projects to deliver the messages from their maps to relevant partners, decision makers, and other interested parties.

Two State Health Departments engaged in a pilot project offered by CDC, CEHI, and NACDD. Staff from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Vermont Department of Health (VDH) developed translation and dissemination plans and products to enhance blood pressure medication adherence in their communities. VDH collaborated to increase the number of pharmacies that provide medication synchronization and the appointment-based model to Vermonters, especially in high-burden populations. MDH collaborated to increase the availability of pharmacist-provided medication therapy management for Medicaid recipients.

For questions about maximizing the use of chronic disease maps, please contact:

Chronic Disease GIS Network


The Chronic Disease GIS Network promotes the exchange of GIS information and resources, engaging over 350 staff using GIS in state and local health departments via a Basecamp platform. Interested in joining? Click the button below. 

Click here to view back issues of the NACDD GIS Network Newsletter.

Tools and Resources

CDC Interactive Atlas of Heart Disease and Stroke

The Interactive Atlas of Heart Disease and Stroke is an online mapping tool that allows users to create and customize county-level maps of heart disease and stroke by race and ethnicity, gender, and age group.

CDC Heart Disease and Stroke Map Widget

The Heart Disease and Stroke Map Widget is an application allowing data from the Interactive Atlas of Heart Disease and Stroke to be presented directly on your website. Data presented through the widget automatically updates, ensuring that the data presented on your website is always the most current data the CDC has available.

CDC Chronic Disease GIS Exchange

An online forum for sharing maps and GIS-related resources for chronic disease prevention.

CDC Map Gallery For Chronic Disease Maps

virtual gallery of maps that address chronic diseases and have been created by state and local health department professionals from across the country.

Rate Stabilizing Tool

An ArcGIS-based tool that allows users to input their own record-level data to generate reliable, local-level age-standardized measures of chronic disease (e.g., prevalence, incidence, and mortality) or other population health outcomes.

How GIS Has Helped Health Departments Working in Chronic Disease Prevention

“GIS brings a whole new meaning to data-informed decision-making. It allows my program and its partners to interpret data easily while gaining insight on multiple factors at once – factors such as gaps, reach, population characteristics, and assets. It’s great and powerful!”

Shelby Vadjunec
Wisconsin Department of Health Services
“Visual representation really helped to connect with partners. When people can see their local community on the map and how it’s impacted, it resonates a lot better with partners and they get more engaged with the information. It really helps to jumpstart the conversation.”

Jesse Tran
North Dakota Department of Health
“People in public health have a large portfolio of work. GIS can help make that work more manageable, more effective, and more meaningful.”

Marie Lynn Miranda
University of Notre Dame
“A picture is worth a thousand words and GIS enables us to take a thousand numbers and make it into a picture.”

Stan Shanedling
Minnesota Department of Health
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