Extending the Qualitative Capabilities of GIS: Computer-Aided Qualitative GIS

A number of approaches for integrating GIS and qualitative research have emerged in recent years, as part of a resurgence of interest in mixed methods research in geography. These efforts to integrate qualitative data and qualitative analysis techniques complement a longstanding focus in GIScience upon ways of handling qualitative forms of spatial data and reasoning in digital environments, and extend engagements with ‘the qualitative’ in GIScience to include discussions of research methodologies. This article contributes to these emerging qualitative GIS methodologies by describing the structures and functions of ‘computer-aided qualitative GIS’ (CAQ-GIS), an approach for storing and analyzing qualitative, quantitative, and geovisual data in both GIS and computer aided data analysis software. CAQ-GIS uses modified structures from conventional desktop GIS to support storage of qualitative data and analytical codes, together with a parallel coding and analysis process carried out with GIS and a computer-aided data analysis software package. The inductive mixed methods analysis potential of CAQ-GIS is demonstrated with examples from research on children’s urban geographies.