Qualitative GIS and the visualization of narrative activity space data

Jeremy Mennis, Michael J. Mason, Yinghui Cao

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    53 Citations (Scopus)


    Qualitative activity space data, i.e. qualitative data associated with the routine locations and activities of individuals, are recognized as increasingly useful by researchers in the social and health sciences for investigating the influence of environment on human behavior. However, there has been little research on techniques for exploring qualitative activity space data. This research illustrates the theoretical principles of combining qualitative and quantitative data and methodologies within the context of geographic information systems (GIS), using visualization as the means of inquiry. Through the use of a prototype implementation of a visualization system for qualitative activity space data and its application in a case study of urban youth we show how these theoretical methodological principles are realized in applied research. The visualization system uses a variety of visual variables to simultaneously depict multiple qualitative and quantitative attributes of individuals' activity spaces. The visualization is applied to explore the activity spaces of a sample of urban youth participating in a study on the geographic and social contexts of adolescent substance use. Examples demonstrate how the visualization can be used to explore individual activity spaces to generate hypotheses, investigate statistical outliers, and explore activity space patterns among subject subgroups. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)267-291
    JournalInternational Journal of Geographical Information Science
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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