Research & Academics

Visualize Social and Environmental Data
Users have access to hundreds of layers and thousands of variables
Join Tabular Data to GIS Layers
Join census and other tabular data to GIS layers, or perform a powerful spatial join
Apply Spatial Analytics to Your Research
Use the spatial statistics toolbox, Insights for ArcGIS, or the R library

Welcome UCSF Students, Faculty, and Researchers

In Health Care, Geography is Destiny

Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, 1998, 21

Zip Code disparities How is it that two people born only miles apart can expect such different health outcomes?

Where we are born and/or live influences the lens through which we see the world. The issues we uncover can be linked to the environment we create and then impose upon those who live there.

The environment in which our patients live and work may expose them to harmful toxins, while social factors may dictate a patient's behavior-- responding to the lack of safe places, access to healhty food choices, or high exposure to tabacco advertisements.

Here at UCSF, researchers have access to powerful GIS software to investigate exposure and social determinants, and whether they may be an indicator of a more general public health issue.

The information below is a guide to utilizing geospatial resources for your classroom or research projects. If you have any questions after reviewing the information below (and subpages) then please use the Geospatial Support request form.


Esri (ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS Online, and more)
Esri's desktop products, ArcGIS Desktop and ArcGIS Pro, as well as their web service, ArcGIS Online, are now available to any UCSF student, faculty, or employee with a valid UCSF ID. Read about the UCSF Esri Site License which includes information about available products, training, and support from Esri.
Please note requests may take 3-5 business days to fulfill
GeoJSON is an open source data format for storing geodata. is a simple website for creating, viewing, and sharing maps using the GeoJSON file format or using KML, GPX, CSV, GTFS, TopoJSON, and other formats. It integrates with GitHub and will display GeoJSON in a Leaflet map. It's a good tool to create a quick map with simple spatial data.
Google Earth Engine
Google Earth Engine combines a multi-petabyte catalog of satellite imagery and geospatial datasets with planetary-scale analysis capabilities such as to detect changes, map trends, and quantify differences on the Earth's surface. Google Earth Engine is available for free for research and teaching use with a valid Gmail account. A higher education resource page for learning and teaching with GEE:
An alternative to ArcGIS, QGIS is a free and open source desktop GIS available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Create, edit, visualize, analyze and publish geospatial information. The Long-Term Release (LRT) is recommended for installation.

Request an Account

Researchers, faculty, and students must use the Geospatial Support Request form to request access to the UCSF Enterprise GIS systems.

Please select the following values in the form menu:

  1. Service Category: Software Licensing & Account Requests
  2. Vendor: Esri (ArcGIS)
  3. Request Type: New User: Request a new License/ArcGIS Online Account
  4. Primary Use: [choose the appropriate primary use option]
  5. Products: ArcGIS Online (cloud-based) is required, and if necessary ArcGIS Pro Desktop, which also requires ArcGIS Online
  6. Summary: Provide a short summary of the project(s) the software will be used for AND what features of the software you will be using.

Users will receive an email when their account is ready to be created. All UCSF GIS systems use Single Sign-On via MyAccess.