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William H. Frey photo

Using DataFerrett Products to Enhance ACS Education

a PSC Research Project [ARCHIVE DISPLAY]

Investigator:   William H. Frey

The purpose of this project is for the US Census Bureau to conduct research that improves the ease of use of the data products from the American Community Survey (ACS) using resources, websites, training, and products currently available from the Census Bureau and the University of Michigan.

Since the mid 1990s, the ACS has developed from a pilot project designed to test the operational feasibility of implementing continuous measurement to a fully implemented data collection program designed to take the place of the decennial census long form survey. Today, the ACS is conducted in every county throughout the nation and has an annual sample size of about 3 million addresses (across the United States and Puerto Rico). As a part of the 2010 Census re-engineering, the ACS has replaced the traditional decennial census long form thus allowing for up-to-date information every year rather than just once-a-decade.

Beginning in 2006, the Census Bureau released ACS data for the nation and for states, counties, and other geographic areas with populations of 65,000 and greater. These data were based on a single year of data collection and are considered 1-year period estimates. In 2008, the first set of multi-year period estimates will be released for data collected between 2005 and 2007. These 3-year period estimates will include geographic areas with populations of 20,000 and greater. In 2010, the first 5-year period estimates will be released for the smallest of geographic areas based on data collected between 2005 and 2009.

ACS data products differ substantially from decennial census survey data products of the past. As a result, we anticipate that data users will have significant challenges in using and understanding data from the ACS. The Census Bureau needs resources and experts to develop applications of data products and enhanced tools for their access to support its education efforts. These applications should use the Census Bureau’s existing dissemination methods and technologies, especially DataFerrett. DataFerrett is the newest of the Census Bureau’s data dissemination tools currently available to data users. A key component for ACS education efforts lies in its “HotReports” feature. This feature allows a data user having no training in computer programming to develop a data application that can be embedded into a separate website but that is actively linked to DataFerrett.

The Census Bureau faces a critical need to expand ACS education efforts rapidly, and on a large scale, as data users learn about and start to review ACS data products. The HotReports feature helps meet this need. Additionally, websites equipped to use HotReports products and provide training to ACS data users are also critical. Thus, to expand ACS education, the Census Bureau must not merely develop products from the Hot Reports feature of DataFerrett, but also identify websites that (1) meet technical and other requirements necessary to use HotReports on a large scale, and (2) for which the primary purpose is the provision of education to many kinds of data users in developing applications of data products. Websites run by academic institutions or data user organizations are usually good candidates to meet these requirements.

Funding Period: 07/01/2008 to 07/31/2009

Country of Focus: USA

This PSC Archive record is displayed for historical reference.

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