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Unique shared geographic data collection now available to researchers and students

Researchers and students now have access to AU's new, shared geographic data collection. The collection can be used for everything from cancer research to mapping prehistoric monuments and it is unique in a Danish university context.

2020.11.03 | Ida Hammerich Nielson

The image shows the number of cattle per hectare in Denmark in 1898 and 2018, respectively. This data shows that over around a century, cattle farming moved from fertile soils in the east to more sandy - and cheaper - soils in the west. This type of GIS data is being used in the AU ProvenanceDK project, for example, the aim of which is to understand and promote local produce.

Administrative data from municipalities. Historical maps. Data on soil composition, lists of prehistoric monuments, climate data, nautical charts and aerial photos. This is just some of the data you can find in the new AU geographic information system (GIS), which is now available to all researchers and students at AU.

Mette Balslev Greve, who is chair of the AU GIS committee, is responsible for the new, shared data collection:

"For many years, researchers have used GIS collections that register and represent geographic data. The departments used to maintain their own data collections, sometimes manually by individual employees, and the systems could not combine and compare data. With this new, shared data collection, AU researchers will have much easier access to far more data than previously," she says.

Potential for more research

The data from AU's local GIS collections, which have now been pooled into a single collection, is used in research across all faculties at AU. For example, economists use GIS data to investigate how to optimise waste collection; a project at Health has examined whether the distance to pig farms has significance for infections with multi-resistant bacteria; and archaeologists use laser scans to locate ring castles. Data from the shared collection holds the potential for more research and collaboration across different disciplines, according to Mette Balslev, who hopes that even more researchers from different fields will use the new, shared GIS collection:

"It's unique in a Danish university context that we here at AU have an interdisciplinary GIS committee, and that we now have a shared GIS collection. The geographic data in the shared collection can be compared and combined across disciplines and subject fields, and this opens up for new research opportunities," she says.

Students from several departments and schools are taught how to use GIS as part of their studies, and they will benefit from the new shared data collection, from where they can also retrieve data for their thesis projects and similar.

Read more about the AU GIS collection at au.dk/gis. You will need to set yourself up as a user to access the collection.

Examples of AU research projects that use GIS:

Research, All groups, All AU units, Aarhus University, Administrative, External target group, Public/Media, Collaboration, Health, Technical / administrative staff