Advancing the use of qualitative GIS to (geo)visualize vulnerability

Type: Virtual Paper
Sponsor Groups:
Poster #:
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM (PDT)
Room: Virtual 50
Organizers: Erin Friedman, Hamil Pearsall
Chairs: Erin Friedman

Call for Submissions


Maps are frequently used to visualize and analyze vulnerability related to disaster risk and development. This is typically conducted through combining local spatial information on hazards and aggregate socio-economic datasets to examine the conditions that affect the ability of households and communities to respond to disaster (Preston et al. 2011; Boruff and Cutter 2007). One of the challenging aspects of mapping has been to capture the place-based social relations (e.g., cultural values, worldviews, local and indigenous knowledge) that shape the context of vulnerability (Bankoff et al. 2004).This challenge is partially due to the mapping process relying heavily upon secondary datasets on hazards and demographics that are limited in scale (Borie et al. 2019). Little empirical work exists that (geo)visualizes qualitative information from primary sources on the community and household scale (e.g., interviews, text, historical archives, media, and, photos) with vulnerability datasets (e.g., census, flood models).

Geographic research within the field of qualitative GIS has explored the intersect between qualitative information on finer scales and mapping through mixed-methods approaches that combine qualitative analysis (e.g., content analysis, corpus linguistics, coding) and visualization or geovisualization techniques (See Pavloskaya 2002; Kwan and Ding 2008; Cope and Elwood 2009; Knigge and Cope 2009; Fielding and Cisneros-Puebla 2009; Jung and Elwood 2010; Brown et al. 2017). Qualitative GIS explores multiple representations of space and geographic knowledge using diverse datasets, software and qualitative research methods (Pavlovskaya 2006), filling a significant research gap in vulnerability research concerning improving the incorporation of qualitative data on the local scale. Some advances are being made within vulnerability studies that make use of qualitative GIS such as: using participatory GIS exercises with individuals and content analysis of policy to reclassify food security vulnerability indices on the census tract scale (Meenar 2017); and using grounded visualization to incorporate qualitative and quantitative information on risk to produce multi-scale visualizations of cultural landscape vulnerability in indigenous communities (O’Rourke 2017). Greater incorporation of qualitative GIS to study vulnerability is needed as it informs alternative ways of visualizing vulnerable spaces and advances our understanding of the conditions that shape the vulnerability of place.

This session will explore multiple ways to make use of qualitative GIS to incorporate qualitative data for finer scale analyses of vulnerability.

*Submit abstracts to

This session invites mixed-method papers that consider, but are not limited to, the following topics:
• Grounded visualization work that studies the multi-scale relations between social-cultural contexts and vulnerability
• Advancing the use of computer assisted qualitative data analysis (CAQDAS) and GIS to study qualitative and quantitative aspects of vulnerability
• Examining vulnerability through combining qualitative research with volunteered geographic information, participatory GIS (PGIS), participatory 3D modelling (P3DM), or public participation GIS (PPGIS)
• Alternative ways of studying vulnerability in data poor contexts
• Methods incorporating open-source software and/or web-based mapping to study local or indigenous spatial knowledge on disaster, development or climate
• Mapping social media data to understand the place-based aspects of climate, development or disaster


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Timothy Hawthorne*, University of Central Florida, Visualizing Community Changes in Belize with Qualitative Sketch Mapping 15 1:30 PM
Presenter Hamil Pearsall*, Temple University, Michele Masucci, Temple University, Smart-sustainable or hazardous urban environments? Youth perspectives on urban environments 15 1:45 PM
Presenter Chris S. Renschler*, LESAM - Landscape-based Environmental System Analysis & Modeling Laboratory - University at Buffalo (SUNY), Susan S. Clark, Department of Environment & Sustainability - University at Buffalo (SUNY), Michael Shelly, RENEW (Research and Education in eNergy, Environment and Water) Institute - University at Buffalo (SUNY), Varun Chandola, Department of Computer Science and Engineering - University at Buffalo (SUNY), JiYoung Park, Department of Urban and Regional Planning - University at Buffalo (SUNY), Organizing Urban Transects for a Sustainable Transformation of Economic PartnershipS (OUTSTEPS) 15 2:00 PM
Presenter Lynn Moorman*, Mount Royal University, Becky Segal, SmartICE, Rex Holwell, SmartICE, Andrew Arreak, SmartICE, Co-designed geospatial curriculum for Inuit sea-ice safety mapping 15 2:15 PM

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