chapter  9
Spatial Cluster Analysis, Spatial Regression, and Applications in Toponymical, Cancer, and Homicide Studies
Pages 22

Two application fields utilize spatial cluster analysis extensively. In crime studies, it is often referred to as hot-spot analysis. Concentrations of criminal activities or hot spots in certain areas may be caused by (1) particular activities, such as drug trading (e.g., Weisburd and Green, 1995); (2) specific land uses, such as skid row areas and bars; or (3) interaction between activities and land uses, such as thefts at bus stops and transit stations (e.g., Block and Block, 1995). Identifying hot spots is useful for police and crime prevention units to target their efforts on limited areas. Health-related research is another field with wide usage of spatial cluster analysis. Does the disease exhibit any spatial clustering pattern? What areas experience a high or low prevalence of disease? Elevated disease rates in some areas may arise simply by chance alone or may be of no public health significance. The pattern generally warrants study only when it is statistically significant (Jacquez, 1998). Spatial cluster analysis is an essential and effective first step in any exploratory investigation. If the spatial cluster patterns of a disease do exist, case-control, retrospective cohort, and other observational studies can follow up.