Does human geography exist

Earth sciences / geography
subject area 11

In the academic years 2012/13 and 2013/14 “The use of GIS in the care sector in Hesse” and the “spatial dimension of demographic change in Hesse / Rhineland-Palatinate” were the focus of interest. The events were carried out in cooperation with the Institute for Economy, Labor and Culture (IWAK, Oliver Lauxen). The students worked in small groups on different questions and answered them with the help of ArcGIS.

A work from the academic year 2012/2013 is to be presented here as an example. In this, Andreas Blitz, Jörg Bohn and Simon Büchler examined how the medical care for dialysis patients in Hesse looks like. On the basis of the spatial distribution of dialysis centers and their accessibility, it should be shown to what extent there are regions in which longer journeys to such a facility have to be accepted or whether there is even supply. With ArcGIS, a thematic map was created on which the distance to the nearest dialysis center is gradually visible for every location in Hesse. This was made possible by calculating catchment areas of different sizes (5 km, 15 km and 25 km) around the individual facilities, each based on the kilometers of road to be covered.

Click here for a larger view of the map.

As can be seen from the map, in the Frankfurt / Rhein-Main region and almost all of southern Hesse, there is comprehensive coverage in terms of dialysis centers. In these areas, no patient has to travel over 25 km when visiting the nearest facility. Larger gaps between the catchment areas, on the other hand, can be seen particularly in parts of northern and central Hesse. Here, those affected have to cover distances of over 25 km, which can result in travel times of up to an hour per dialysis visit. An improvement in accessibility through the opening of new facilities would therefore also lead to an improvement in the quality of life of the patients in these regions. The results can therefore provide clues as to the regions in which the expansion of dialysis offers can be useful.