Journal of Official Statistics, Vol.23, No.3, 2007. pp. 269–283

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The Morris Hansen Lecture 2006 Statistical Perspectives on Spatial Social Science

Recent commentators have drawn attention to what appears to be a “spatial turn” in several disciplines, including some of the social sciences, driven in part by advances in the geographic information technologies – geographic information systems, the Global Positioning System, and satellite remote sensing – and in part by an increasing emphasis on place-based analysis and policy formulation. It is possible to identify several general characteristics of geographic data, each of which presents problems in the application of traditional statistical methods. Spatial dependence and spatial heterogeneity both run counter to standard assumptions of statistical methods, yet both are potentially useful properties of geographic data. There are interesting applications of classic problems in statistical geometry, and much attention over the past two decades has been devoted to modeling the uncertainties that are inevitably present in geographic data. The presentation ends with comments and speculation on future directions for the field, including an increasing emphasis on the temporal dimension.

Geographic information system, place-based analysis, spatial dependence, spatial heterogeneity, statistical geometry

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