The re-elaboration of John Snow’s map in a GIS environment. Input for transferring methodological and applied skills being inspired by a virtuous practical example of social utility


  • Davide Pavia Dipartimento di Lettere e Culture Moderne, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy.
  • Cristiano Pesaresi Dipartimento di Lettere e Culture Moderne, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy.
  • Corrado De Vito Dipartimento di Sanità  Pubblica e Malattie Infettive, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy.


John Snow’s map made it possible to save many human lives by interrupting the spread of cholera, in an areaof London in 1854 after the study of a relevant number of cases which allowed him to put his assumptions andresearch into practice. His work had a crucial role for future developments of epidemiology and provided thebasis for (geo)spatial discussions and density studies in relation to risk factors and his insights enabledcartographic and successively GIS approaches, as support to medical studies, to have remarkable advances. Inthis contribution – conceived on the basis of a practical initiative held for the GIS Day 2019 Medical geographyand GIS applications for social utility (Rome, 11 November 2019) – we propose a re-elaboration of JohnSnow’s map in a GIS environment, underlining how demonstrative-laboratory activities focused on specificcases can provide remarkable inputs for transferring methodological and applied skills, being inspired by avirtuous example of social utility. In particular, we discuss and provide guidelines for the application ofgeoreferencing, editing and Kernel Density for a modern John Snow’s map and to provide several inputs foranalysing today’s diseases and relative risk factors, also at the light of new functionalities which make itpossible to spread the results of the work. Some considerations are also provided regarding the importanceof didactical activities adequately thought out and planned and held in geocartographic laboratories orspecially equipped GIS lecture halls, since they can contribute to a rigorous geographical education withlinks to modern sectors of interdisciplinary research. As support for this specific case, the main results arepresented of a short questionnaire submitted to the participants at the demonstrative-application coursefocused on the re-elaboration in a GIS environment of John Snow’s map.


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Health Education (edited by Corrado De Vito)