Reconciling socio-economic and environmental data in a GIS context: An example from rural England

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The study of sustainable development relies upon an understanding of the linkages and interactions between the physical, social and economic environments. One of the problems confronting investigations of sustainable development has been the apparent incompatibility of spatial data collected by different academic disciplines, due to the differing scale and nature of data collection. This paper discusses techniques for reconciling such data in the development of a spatial data set designed to characterise rural England in terms of what is there, what it is like, the living and working conditions, and the political and economic context. The methodological considerations of combining data from different sampling regimes, scales and themes to a consistent unit of analysis are described. They suggest that the origin of the data, be it social, economic or physical, need not in itself be a barrier to integration. While recognising certain constraints imposed by different disciplinary cultures, the paper argues that an understanding of data form and distribution is far more critical for the creation of a spatial dataset describing the variety of conditions prevailing in rural England. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd: All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Geography
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2007


  • sustainable development
  • spatial data integration
  • rural environments

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