Staff Directory

Gary higgs2

Contact Details


1983 BSc Geography, UCW Aberystwyth
1987 PhD Geography, UCW Aberystwyth
2009 DSc University of Glamorgan Social and Environmental Applications of Geographical Information Science


Director of the Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Research Centre in USW and a co-Director of the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD). A quantitative geographer by background, my over-arching research interests are in the application of GIS and other types of spatial technologies in social and environmental studies. Most recently my research has been in the areas of health geography, geography of sport and inequalities in access to public services using GIS-based accessibility models.
Geographical Information Systems Research Centre, University of South Wales


Career Summary

1987 – 1999 Research Assistant/Lecturer/Senior Lecturer, Department of City and Regional Planning, Cardiff University
1999 – 2000 Senior Lecturer, School of Geography, University of Leeds
2000 – Professor of Geographical Information Science, Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Science. Co-Director Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD) at the University of Glamorgan/University of South Wales (since the inception of WISERD Phase 1 in 2008)


Main Teaching subjects and course leadership

  • MSc Computing Schemes: IS4S766 GIS Principles and Practice (Module Leader)
  • BSc/MSc Project Supervision
  • MPhil/PhD (KESS) Research Supervision

Administrative Activities

  • Co-Director Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD) (2009-)
  • Director GIS Research Centre, University of South Wales
  • Reviewed manuscripts for over 50 academic journals and book proposals for 5 publishers
  • Panel member for the RGS/IBG Geographical Information Science Research Group: Best Dissertation in the area of Geographic Information Science, 2012-
  • Editorial Board Member for Computers, Environment and Urban Systems (2000-2008)
  • Editorial Board Member for International Journal of Health Geographics
  • Refereed Research Proposals for; ESRC, AHRC, NERC and EPSRC; Medical Research Council (MRC), Cancer Research UK, Irish Health Research Board and Royal Irish Academy and Science Foundation Ireland, University of Florida CRC/Cornerstone SSPEG Program and Referee for Leverhulme Prize in Geography
  • External examiner; MSc GIS, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Ulster, 2004-2008; School of Geography, University of Leeds 2009-2014
  • External examiners on M.Phil and Ph.D theses
  • Chair and Internal examiner, University of South Wales


Peer Reviewed Book Chapters, Book Reviews, Journal Articles and Refereed Conference Presentations:

  • Higgs, G. (2020) Review of Stillwell, J. (Ed.) The Routledge Handbook of Census Resources, Methods and Applications: Unlocking the UK 2011 Census, for Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 47(2), 354–356.
  • Page, N., Langford, M. and Higgs, G. (2020) Exploring spatiotemporal variations in public library provision following a prolonged period of economic austerity: a GIS approach’, Area, 1-12,
  • Langford, M., Higgs, G., and Dallimore, D. (2019) Investigating spatial variations in access to childcare provision using network-based GIS models, Social Policy & Administration, 53(5), 661-677.10.1111/spol.12419
  • Higgs, G, Langford, M., Jarvis, P., Page, N., Richards, J. and Fry, R. (2019) Using GIS to investigate variations in accessibility to ‘extended hours’ primary health care provision, Health and Social Care in the Community, 27(4), 1074-1084, DOI:10.1111/hsc.12724
  • Page, N., Langford, M. and Higgs, G. (2019) Measuring spatial accessibility to services within Indices of Multiple Deprivation: Implications of applying an Enhanced two-step Floating Catchment Area (E2SFCA) approach, Journal of Applied Spatial Analysis and Policy, 12(2), 321-348. doi:10.1007/s12061-017-9246-2
  • Pouliou, T., Lowe, S. and Higgs, G. (2019) Assessing the health impacts of adults’ participation in sports: investigating the role of accessibility to sport facilities, The International Journal of Population Data Science, 4 (3): Conference Proceedings for International Conference on Administrative Data Research 2019,
  • Price, A., Langford, M., Higgs, G. and Radcliffe, J. (2019) Enhancing our understanding of access to sporting facilities in Wales through geospatial analysis, Poster paper presented at the GIS Research UK conference, University of Newcastle, April 24th – 26th 2019.
  • Williams, R., Higgs, G. and Langford, M. (2019) The usability of open source tools to measure access to health services; analysing mobile cancer unit location, Paper presented at the GIS Research UK conference, University of Newcastle, April 24th – 26th 2019.
  • Page, N., Higgs, G. and Langford, M. (2018) An exploratory analysis of spatial variations in organ donation registration rates in the five years prior to implementation of the Human Transplantation (Wales) Act 2013, Health and Place, 52, 18-24. 10.1016/j.healthplace.2018.05.002
  • Page, N., Langford, M. and Higgs, G. (2018) An evaluation of alternative measures of accessibility for investigating potential ‘deprivation amplification’ in service provision, Applied Geography, 95, 19-33. doi:10.1016/j.apgeog.2018.04.003
  • Higgs, G., Jones, S., Langford, M. and Heley, J (2018) Assessing the Impacts of Changing Public Service Provision on Geographical Accessibility: an examination of public library provision in Pembrokeshire, South Wales, Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space, 36(3), 548–568 doi: 10.1177/2399654417715457
  • Langford, M., Higgs, G. and Radcliffe, J. (2018) The application of network-based GIS tools to investigate spatial variations in the provision of sporting facilities, Annals of Leisure Research, 21(2), 178-198. doi:10.1080/11745398.2016.1272059
  • Higgs, G., Zahnow, R., Corcoran, J., Langford, M. and Fry, R. (2017) Modelling spatial access to General Practitioner surgeries: Does public transport availability matter? Journal of Transport and Health, 6, 143-154. doi:10.1016/j.jth.2017.05.361
  • Frew, R., Higgs, G., Harding, J. and Langford, M. (2017) Investigating geospatial data usability from a health geography perspective using sensitivity analysis: the example of potential accessibility to primary healthcare, Journal of Transport and Health, 6, 128-142. doi:10.1016/j.jth.2017.03.013
  • Corcoran, J., Zahnow, R. and Higgs, G. (2016) Using routine activity theory to inform a conceptual understanding of the geography of fire events, Geoforum, 75, 180-185. doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2016.07.015
  • Langford, M., Higgs, G. and Fry, R. (2016) Multi-modal Two-Step Floating Catchment Area Analysis of Primary Health Care Accessibility, Health and Place, 38, 70-81. doi:10.1016/j.healthplace.2015.11.007
  • Higgs, G., Langford, M. and Norman, P. (2015) Accessibility to sports facilities in Wales: A GIS-based analysis of socio-economic variations in provision, Geoforum, 62, 105-120. doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2015.04.010
  • Jones, S., Orford, S. and Higgs, G. (2015) ‘Wales: a statistical perspective’ in Jones, M.J., Orford, S. and Macfarlane, V. (Eds.) People Places and Policy: Knowing Contemporary Wales through new localities, Routledge. Chapter 3.
    Link to Book Details
  • Langford, M. Higgs, G and Fry R. 2015 “Measuring Assess to Primary Health Care using Two-Step Floating Catchment Areas and a Public/Private Multi-modal Transport Network” Plurimondi: An International Forum for Research and Debate on Human Settlement. Reflections on theoretical and quantitative geography (no. I) Vol. 8, No.16, 39-52.
    Link to Paper
  • Frew, R., Higgs, G., Langford, M. and Harding, J. (2015) Assessing geographic data usability in analytical contexts: Undertaking sensitivity analysis of geospatial processes, in Malleson, N., Addis, N., Durham, H., Heppenstall, A., Lovelace, R., Norman, P. and Oldroyd, R. (Eds.) Proceedings of the GIS Research UK 23rd Annual Conference, University of Leeds, 206-213.
    Link to Proceedings
  • Tsatsou, P., Higgs, G., Stafford, I., Fry, R. and Berry, R. (2013) Digital inclusion and connectivity of minority communities: The case of communities of disabled people, in Choudrie, J. and Middleton, C. (Eds.). Management of Broadband Technology Innovation, Routledge, 122-144.
    Link to Book Details
  • Corcoran, J. and Higgs, G. (2013) Special issue on spatial analytical approaches in urban fire management, Fire Safety Journal, 62(A), 1-2. doi:10.1016/j.firesaf.2013.11.001
  • Corcoran, J. Higgs, G. and Anderson, T. (2013) Examining the use of a geodemographic classification in an exploratory analysis of variations in fire incidence in South Wales, UK, Fire Safety Journal, 62(A), 37-48.
  • Higgs, G, and Langford, M. (2013) Investigating the validity of rural-urban distinctions in the impacts of changing service provision: the example of postal service reconfiguration in Wales, Geoforum, 47, 53-64.
  • Higgs, G., Langford, M. and Fry, R. (2013) Investigating variations in the provision of digital services in public libraries using network-based GIS models, Library and Information Science Research, 35(1), 24-32.
  • Langford, M., Higgs, G. and Fry, R. (2012) Using Floating Catchment Analysis (FCA) techniques to examine intra-urban variations in accessibility to public transport opportunities: the example of Cardiff, Wales Journal of Transport Geography, 25(1), 1-14.
  • Fry, R., Berry, R., Higgs, G., Orford, S., and Jones, S. (2012) The WISERD Geoportal: A tool for the discovery, analysis and visualisation of socio-economic (meta-) data for Wales, Transactions in GIS, 16(2), 105-124.
  • Higgs, G., Fry, R. and Langford, M. (2012) Investigating the implications of using alternative GIS-based techniques to measure accessibility to green space, Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 39(2), 326-343.
  • Berry, R. and Higgs, G. (2012) Gauging levels of public acceptance of the use of visualisation tools in promoting public participation; a case study of wind farm planning in South Wales, UK, Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 55(2), 229-251.
  • Langford, M., Fry, R., and Higgs, G. (2012) Measuring transit system accessibility using a modified two-step floating catchment technique, International Journal of Geographical Information Science, 26(2), 193-214. .
  • Corcoran, J., Higgs, G., Rohde, D. and Chhetri, P. (2011) Investigating the association between weather conditions, calendar events and socio-economic patterns with trends in fire incidence: an Australian case study, Journal of Geographical Systems, 13(2), 193-226.
  • Berry, R., Higgs, G., Fry, R. and Langford, M. (2011) Web-based GIS approaches to enhance public participation in wind farm planning, Transactions in GIS, 15(2), 147-172.
  • Corcoran, J., Higgs, G. and Higginson, A. (2011) The importance of socio-economic factors on fire incidence: A comparison of trends for Brisbane (Australia) and Cardiff (United Kingdom), Applied Geography, 31(1), 65-75
  • Langford, M. and Higgs, G. (2010) Accessibility and public service provision: Evaluating the impacts of the Post Office Network Change Programme in the UK, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 35(4), 585-601.
  • Richards, W. and Higgs, G. (2010) An audit of smoking behaviours among patients attending two General Dental Practices in South Wales: An awareness-raising exercise for the dental team and patients, Primary Dental Care, 17(2), 79-82.
  • Berry, R, Fry, R, Higgs, G and Orford, S. (2010) A Geo-portal for Enhancing Collaborative Socio-Economic Research in Wales Using Open Source Technology, The Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, 2(1), 77-92.
  • Richards, W., Razzaq, K. and Higgs, G. (2009) An audit of dental general anaesthetic referral from a general dental practice in South Wales, Primary Dental Care 16(4), 143-147.
  • Brunsdon, C., Corcoran, J., Higgs, G. and Ware, A. (2009) The influence of weather on local geographical patterns of crime, Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 36(5), 906-926.
  • Higgs, G. (2009) The role of GIS for health utilization studies: Literature review, Health Services and Outcome Research Methodology, 9(2), 84-99.
  • Higgs, G. and Langford, M. (2009) GIScience, Environmental Justice, & Estimating Populations at Risk: The Case of Landfills in Wales, Applied Geography, 29(1), 63-76.
  • Higgs, G., Berry, R., Kidner, D. and Langford, M. (2008) Using IT approaches to promote public participation in renewable energy planning: Prospects and Challenges, Land Use Policy, 25(4), 596-607.
  • McDonald, K., Iredale, R. and Higgs, G. (2008) Primary care referrals to a British regional cancer genetics service, Journal of Clinical Nursing, 17, 3074-3076.
  • Langford, M., Higgs, G., Radcliffe, J. and White, S.D. (2008) Urban Population Distribution Models And Service Accessibility Estimation, Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, 32(1), 66-80.
  • Corcoran, J., Higgs, G., Brunsdon, C., Ware, A. and Norman, P. (2007) The use of spatial analytical techniques to explore patterns of fire incidence: A South Wales case study, Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, 31(6), 623-647
  • Corcoran, J., Higgs, G., Brunsdon, C. and Ware, A. (2007) The use of co-maps to examine the spatial and temporal dynamics of fire incidents: A case study in South Wales, UK, Professional Geographer, 59(4), 522-537.
  • Ivaha, C., Al-Madfai, H., Higgs, G., Ware, A. and Corcoran, J. (2007) The Simple Spatial Dis-aggregation Approach to spatio-temporal crime forecasting, International Journal of Innovative Computing, Information and Control (IJICIC), 3(4), 509-523.
  • Brunsdon, C., Corcoran, J. and Higgs, G. (2007) Visualising Space and Time in Crime Patterns: A Comparison of Methods, Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, 31, 52-75.
  • Higgs, G and White, S.D. (2006) Changes in service provision in rural areas: Part 1: The use of GIS in analysing accessibility to services in rural deprivation research, originally published in the Journal of Rural Studies, 13(4), 441-450. Reprinted in Kiminami, L., Button, K. and Nijkamp, P (Eds.) Public Facilities Planning, in Classics in Planning series number 3 Series Editors Button, K. and Nijkamp, P, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1845420268.
  • Langford, M. and Higgs, G. (2006) Measuring Potential Access to Primary Healthcare Services: The Influence of Alternative Spatial Representations of Population, The Professional Geographer, 58(3), 294-306.
  • Higgs, G. (2006) Integrating Multi-criteria techniques with GIS in waste facility location to enhance public participation, Waste Research and Management, 24(2), 105-117.
  • Palmer, S.R., Dunstan, F.D.J., Fielder, H., Fone, D.L, Higgs, G. and Senior, M.L. (2005) Risk of congenital anomalies after the opening of landfill sites, Environmental Health Perspectives, 113(10), 1362-1365.
  • Tempest, V., Mcdonald, K., Higgs, G., Iredale, R., Bater, T. and Gray, J. (2005) Spatial mapping of referrals to a multi-centre cancer genetics service, Community Genetics, 8(2), 73-79.
  • Read, P., Higgs, G. and Taylor, G.E. (2005) The potential and barriers to the use of Geographical Information Systems for marketing applications in Higher Educational Institutions, Market Intelligence and Planning, 23(1), 30-42.
  • Higgs, G., Smith, D.P. and Gould, M.I. (2005) Findings from a survey on GIS use in the UK National Health Service: organisational challenges and opportunities, Health Policy, 72(1), 105-117.
  • Higgs, G. (2004) A literature review of the use of GIS-based measures of Access to Health Care Services, Health Services and Outcome Research Methodology, 5, 125-145.
  • Mcdonald, K., Higgs, G., Iredale, R., Tempest, V. and Gray, J. (2004) Analysing spatial trends in referral patterns to cancer genetics services: A preliminary investigation of regional variations in Wales, Health Services Management Research, 17(4), 263-271.
  • Higgs, G., Williams, C. and Dorling, D. (2004) Use of the Census of Population to discern trends in the Welsh language: An aggregate analysis, Area, 36(2), 187-201.

Edited Books:

  • Higgs, G. (2003) Rural Services and Social Exclusion, London, Pion. 246pp. ISBN 0850861748
  • Kidner, D.B., Higgs, G. and White, S.D. (2002) Socio-economic Applications of Geographical Information Science: Innovations in GIS 9, London, Taylor and Francis, ISBN 0 41527910 0.

Editor of Journal Special Issues:

  • Higgs, G. (Ed.) (2002) Special Issue on Researching Applications of GIS in Health: Health GIS sessions at GISRUK 2001, University of Glamorgan, Health and Place (Elsevier) 8(1) doi:10.1016/S1353-8292(01)00030-2
  • Higgs, G. and Kidner, D.B. (Eds.) (2002) Special Issue from Geocomputation/GIS sessions at GISRUK 2001, University of Glamorgan, Computers, Environment and Urban Systems (Elsevier), 26 (2/3). doi:10.1016/S0198-9715(01)00036-9


  • Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society / Institute of British Geographers (RGS-IBG)
  • Quantitative Methods Study Group (QMSG) (Chairperson 2001-2004)
  • Currently member of several study groups within RGS-IBG including Rural, Health and Well-being and GIScience SGs.


External Examiner MSc GIS, School of Geography University of Leeds (2009-2014)


Principal Research Interests & Current Projects

  • Spatial and social inequalities
  • GIS-based analysis in accessibility modelling – with particular interests in investigating access to public services in rural areas in relation to the socio-economic characteristics of such communities
  • Applications of GIS in medical geography and in particular researching the use of network-based models in examining access to primary and secondary health care
  • Use of GIS and visualisation techniques in emergency planning such as the police and fire services
  • Applying GIS techniques in collaborative environments and in particular the use of GIS in public participation arenas as part of decision support system frameworks.
  • Investigating the use of so-called Public Participation GIS (PPGIS) in combination with multi-criteria decision analysis in the siting of facilities such as windfarms and landfill sites.
  • Investigating patterns of environmental (in)justice in the UK.
  • Use of innovative multi-method approaches based on spatial analytical techniques in investigating the socio-economic geography of Wales (WISERD initiative)

Recent Research Grants

  • The Use of Geographical Information Systems in the health sector funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
  • BCU analysis and CRDP analysis; cluster analysis project (funded by the Home Office)
  • Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD) Phase 1 (2008-2012): funded by the ESRC and HEFCW (Reconfiguration and Collaboration Fund) (jointly with Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff and Swansea Universities)
  • Understanding the role of ICT use in connectivity of minority communities in Wales funded by AHRC (jointly with Cardiff and Swansea Universities)
  • Spatial Data Usability (funded by Ordnance Survey)
  • WISERD Civil Society (2014-2019): Work-package 3.2: Implications of Spatial & Temporal Variation in Service Provision for Inequalities in Social Outcomes The proposed study will carry out analysis of existing secondary sources of quantitative data in order to investigate levels of social capital within communities in relation to changing levels of provision of key public services (Wales Institute of Social and Economic Data and Methods (WISERD) Civil Society, funded by ESRC Large Centres Grant scheme)
  • WISERD Civil Society: Changing perspectives on Civic Stratification and Civil Repair (2019-2024): This Centre will look at divisions in society by focusing on the rights and obligations and practices of citizens and the role of civil society organisations in addressing inequalities in those rights and obligations. This will examine issues such as trends in polarisation of economic, political and social rights – looking at how campaigns for rights are changing and undertaking case studies of attempts to repair the fabric of civil life. WISERD is a partnership between the universities of Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff, South Wales and Swansea. Principal Investigator, Professor Ian Jones

Areas of Expertise

Quantitative Geography, Spatial Analysis and Geographical Information Science
Applications of GIS in planning, health geography, transport, crime and the environment
Analysis of Socio-economic data sets such as the Census

If you are a journalist on deadline and you need to speak with a member of university staff with particular expertise, please contact the Press Office.