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William H. Frey photo

Democratizing Access to the American Community Survey

a PSC Research Project

Investigator:   William H. Frey

The Social Science Data Analysis Network (www.SSDAN.net), a part of the Population Studies Center at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, is seeking funding to incorporate the Census Bureau’s new American Community Survey data into a new online data portal. This new portal will be modeled on the successful strategies developed in our earlier CensusScope.org product, which is a translational effort to make US Census and related social and economic statistics more accessible, and interpretable to a wide range of users—both generalists and specialists. In so doing, it strives to make these audiences more literate in the use of social measures and statistics.



The annual American Community Survey (ACS) will replace the decennial census for information that these consumers usually rely on—population and household statistics on items such as income, poverty levels, race-ethnic groups, immigration, and household changes for their presentations, grant applications, publications, and overall decision making. Yet it is very different from the Decennial Census in the frequency and statistical accuracy in how its data are presented. Most users are neither aware that these new annual data will replace the decennial census, nor will they readily appreciate the statistical nuances required to analyze the ACS. Thus, a website for non-specialists will be needed for them to make the transition.



In this 36 month project, we propose to create a web-based ACS portal, making annual American Community Survey data available in easily accessible formats for a wide range of topics and geographic areas, including a large array of economic statistics, and to increase our already significant outreach to new audiences. Development will adopt many of the strengths identified during previous work on CensusScope.org.



The purpose of this project will be to achieve the following:

• Create a website portal to the annual American Community Survey data and enable users to make the transition from the Decennial Census to the ACS

• Increase the number and variety of statistics offered by SSDAN resources, including more focus given to economic statistics

• Extend the outreach of the new ACS Portal beyond existing audiences of CensusScope and other SSDAN sites.

Funding Period: 05/01/2009 to 05/01/2013

Country of Focus: USA

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