Serving Nebraska for 65 Years!

Epidemology – GIS Section

About Us


The mission of the Epidemiology/Geographic Information Systems (EPI/GIS) Section of the Public Health Association of Nebraska is to use epidemiologic data to guide public health practice and improve health by reducing morbidity and mortality in Nebraska through surveillance, early detection, education, outreach and intervention.

The EPI/GIS Section accomplishes this by supporting the use of effective public health surveillance and best epidemiologic practice through training, capacity development, and peer consultation while developing standards for practice, and advocating for resources and scientifically based policy.

EPI – GIS Contacts

Robin Williams – Co-Chair gishealth
Chad Wetzel – Co- Chair


If you are an Epidemiology or GIS professional, then you belong in our Section.

We currently have 23 members in our Section.


Epidemiology, one of the core sciences of public health, is “the study of the distribution and determinants of health-related states and events in specific populations, and the application of this study to control of health problems.”

GIS, which has been used for public health efforts for many years, is “combining  computer-mapping capabilities with additional database management and data analysis tools. GIS technologies can show locations, quantities, densities, and proximities, can reveal patterns and relationships, and can be used to create maps, models, and graphs.

What is Epi Info™?

Physicians, nurses, epidemiologists, and other public health workers lacking a background in information technology often have a need for simple tools that allow the rapid creation of data collection instruments and data analysis, visualization, and reporting using epidemiologic methods. Epi Info™, a suite of lightweight software tools, delivers core ad-hoc epidemiologic functionality without the complexity or expense of large, enterprise applications.

Epi Info™ is easily used in places with limited network connectivity or limited resources for commercial software and professional IT support. Epi Info™ is flexible, scalable, and free while enabling data collection, advanced statistical analyses, and geographic information system (GIS) mapping capability.

Since its initial release, Epi Info™ users have self-registered in over 181 countries covering all continents including Antarctica. Epi Info™ has been translated in more than 13 languages.

More than one million users are estimated. Click on this link  to find out more.

How is Epi Info™ Used?

Epi Info™ is used worldwide for the rapid assessment of disease outbreaks; for the development of small to mid-sized disease surveillance systems; as ad hoc components integrated with other large scale or enterprise-wide public health information systems; and in the continuous education of public health professionals learning the science of epidemiology, tools, and techniques.

  • The Form Designer module of Epi Info™ allows users to create questionnaires and data entry forms in Epi Info™. With Form Designer, users place questions and data entry fields on one or many pages and tailor the data entry process with conditional skip patterns, data validation, and custom calculations programmed by the user using Form Designer’s Check Code.
  • The Enter module of Epi Info™ automatically creates the database from the questionnaire in Form Designer. Users enter data, modify existing data, or search for records. With Enter, the Forms are displayed and users perform the data entry while the Check Code validates the data or performs any automatic calculations that were specified in Form Designer.
  • The Analysis module is used to read and analyze data entered with the Enter module or data imported from 24 different data formats. Epidemiologic statistics, tables, graphs, and maps are produced with simple commands such as READ, FREQ, LIST, TABLES, GRAPH, and MAP. As each command is run, it is saved to the program editor where it can be customized and saved, shared, and used in the future as data are revised.
  • The Epi Map module displays geographic maps with data from Epi Info. Epi Map is built around the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) MapObjects software. Epi Map displays shapefiles containing the geographic boundaries layered with data results from the Analysis module.


Download a membership application. Print the form, fill out and mail to PHAN.


    • Networking and exchanging resources with your peers
    • Providing input into Section activities
    • Discounts at PHAN activities
    • Taking a lead in important issues


GIS Refresher Exercise #1


2017 Nebraska GIS Symposium – Call for Participation



 Click on below link to request data….

Recently Released/Updated CDC Resources

  • CDC’s Community Health Status Indicators (CHSI) 2015 is an interactive web application that produces health profiles for all 3,143 counties in the United States. Each profile includes key indicators of health outcomes, which describe the population health status of a county and factors that have the potential to influence health outcomes, such as health care access and quality, health behaviors, social factors (economic and social conditions that may directly or indirectly influence the health of people and communities) and the physical environment (the natural environment (air, water, and soil) and the built environment (safe and affordable housing, transportation, access to nutritious and affordable food.) The social factors and the physical environment are especially important because they represent the conditions in which people are born, live, work, and play. Key features include:

o   Summary Comparison Report – an “at a glance” summary of how a county compares with peer counties on the full set of Primary Indicator.

o   Indicator Description –info describing the significance of the indicator, source/years of data, methodology for creation, and any limitations.

o   Indicator Downloads – indicator values for each group of peer counties can be downloaded for further examination and analysis.

o   Populations – allows users to compare an indicator value for the entire population of a county with sub-populations defined by sex, age groups, and race/ethnicity, where data are available. This feature can be used to assist with identifying potential health disparities.

o   Census Tract Maps –identify vulnerable populations and potential health disparities by examining the geographic distribution of select social factor indicators within a county (by census tract).

o   Associated Indicators – these are indicators that are related to the primary indicator and may provide additional valuable information. For example, the primary indicator for educational attainment is on-time high school graduation rate. Associated Indicators include percent of adults without a high school diploma and percent of adults with an associate level degree or higher.

  • 2016 Bicycling and Walking in the U.S. Benchmarking Report – The Report, a collaboration between CDC and the Alliance for Biking and Walking, includes new data on bicycling and walking in all 50 states, the 52 largest U.S. cities, and a select number of midsized cities. It combines original research with over 20 government data sources to compile data on bicycling and walking levels and demographics, safety, funding, policies, infrastructure, education, public health indicators, and economic impacts.
  • Working Together: A Training Framework for Public Health and Planning Professionals: As public health professionals and urban planners begin to work more closely, they need the ability to speak each other’s languages in order to work together effectively. Public health professionals and urban planners need a mutual and basic understanding of each other’s concepts, data sources, etc. in order to forge effective partnerships. This toolkit will help both professions get basic training in concepts that will foster this collaboration.
  • The Built Environment and Public Health Clearinghouse (BEPHC) is a resource for training at both the university and professional levels and a source for relevant news and information at this critical intersection of community design and health. It includes:

o   Professional Training directs professionals to webinars, primers, toolkits, organizations, and other online resources for self-directed learning.

o   Academic Training offers a full academic semester or individual modules for multidisciplinary instruction between public health and architecture, health impact assessment, planning and transportation engineering. It includes learning goals, units, reading, assignments, sample syllabi, and student reports. It also guides students on academic course offerings, specializations, certificates, and dual degree programs at US colleges and universities for architecture, health impact assessment, planning, and public health.

o   A Glossary of over 1,100 terms from architecture, health impact assessment, planning, public health, and transportation engineering.

Key New or Upcoming Partner Resources

  • The Urban Land Institute just released the Building Healthy Places Toolkit: Strategies for Enhancing Health in the Built Environment. Developers, owners, property managers, designers, investors, and others involved in real estate decision making can use the report’s recommendations and strategies to create places that contribute to healthier people and communities. The toolkit builds on previous publications from the larger Building Healthy Places Initiative, which seeks to leverage the power of ULI’s global network of almost 33,000 members through the Toolkit and other projects like the Healthy Corridors Project designed to provide guidance on transforming isolated, auto-dependent roads and commercial strip centers into vibrant, safe, and healthy corridors.
  • AARP is developing a web-based Livability Index, to be released in mid- to late April, which will use nationally available data, incorporate mapping technology, quantitative measures, and public policies to assess the livability of communities. The Index will help users better understand their communities and make decisions about their future needs – informing policy development and community stakeholder participation. A community’s Livability Score will be based on measures of essential attributes in certain categories, also called domains, to determine the location’s degree of livability. Domains will include: 1) Environment, 2) Health, 3) Housing, 4) Neighborhood, 5) Transportation, 6) Civic & Social Engagement, and 7) Economic Opportunity. To receive launch notification sign up here:
  • Minimum Elements and Practice Standards for Health Impact Assessment (Version 3): This document represents a revision of the Minimum Elements and Practice Standards for Health Impact Assessment, originally published by the North American HIA Practice Standards Working Group in April 2009 and revised in November, 2010. This document is intended to provide guidance on what is required for a study to be considered an HIA (Minimum Elements) and some benchmarks for effective practice. These Minimum Elements apply to HIA whether conducted independently or integrated within an environmental, social or strategic impact assessment. The Standards can serve HIA practitioners as well as those who request, fund, and evaluate HIA practice.
  • CSTE works to advance public health policy and epidemiologic capacity. We also provide information, education, and developmental support of practicing epidemiologists in a wide range of areas as well as expertise for program and surveillance efforts.CSTE is an organization of member states and territories representing public health epidemiologists. CSTE works to establish more effective relationships among state and other health agencies. It also provides technical advice and assistance to partner organizations and to federal public health agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CSTE members have surveillance and epidemiology expertise in a broad range of areas including occupational health, infectious diseases, environmental health, chronic diseases, injury control, maternal and child health, and more. CSTE supports effective public health surveillance and good epidemiologic practice through training, capacity development, and peer consultation.. Other links:
                 , the Overdose Subcommittee announced the development of tool that analyze the text on death certificates by identifying specific drugs mentioned on the death certificates. These tool consist of a SAS program designed to review the text data on the death certificate, an excel spreadsheet with common search terms found on the death certificates, and a text document explaining the tool. These tool can help state analysts to improve drug overdose surveillance activities.Click here to download the tool
  • National Syndromic Surveillance Program

Existing Tools in Community Engagement and Assessment from CDC

  • Principles of Community Engagement – Provides public health professionals, health care providers, researchers, and community-based leaders and organizations with both a science base and practical guidance for engaging partners in projects that may affect them. The primer also provides tools for those who are leading efforts to improve population health through community engagement.
  • Protocol for Assessing Community Excellence in Environmental Health (PACE EH) – PACE EH guides local public health officials and communities through a process to explore the broad physical and social environments that impact health and safety. The assessment process engages communities in a series of tasks to investigate the relationships among what they value, how their local environment impacts their health, and what actions are necessary to live safer and healthier lives.

We encourage you to help us build this website by offering suggestions about what you would like to see and by sending us maps and data you think others will be interested in seeing.

Interested in Learning More about the EPI/GIS Section?

[gravityform id=”8″ name=”EPI – GIS Section – Contact Form”]