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Geospatial Data

Geospatial data includes data regarding the size, shape, or location of the subject of inquiry. Data can be labeled by city and state; by unit in a survey (such as a household or health facility); or by geographic coordinates such as longitude, latitude, and altitude. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software can be used help collect, visualize, manipulate, and analyze this data. For example, a study on the right to water might include geospatial data about the location of water points such as wells and hand pumps, as well as their distance from key locations such as households and schools. Geospatial data can be linked with other data to add another dimension to the data gathered. Visualization can help spot trends and patterns in data, for example, mapping respondents of a survey to show areas where greater focus is required. Large-scale human rights events, such as attacks on a civilian population, or the razing of villages, can sometimes be captured using geospatial data captured by satellites. Before- and after-event analysis can shed light on the event, as well as clues about the perpetrators. Modern mobile phones come with geographic senors and can be used to collect location data, though these may have limited accuracy compared to dedicated GPS receivers. Digital shape files are increasingly available, including from crowdsourced projects like OpenStreetMap, as well as high quality digital satellite imagery.