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United States Technology

US Census Bureau Offers Public API For Data Apps 47

Nerval's Lobster writes "For any software developers with an urge to play around with demographic or socio-economic data: the U.S. Census Bureau has launched an API for Web and mobile apps that can slice that statistical information in all sorts of nifty ways. The API draws data from two sets: the 2010 Census (statistics include population, age, sex, and race) and the 2006-2010 American Community Survey (offers information on education, income, occupation, commuting, and more). In theory, developers could use those datasets to analyze housing prices for a particular neighborhood, or gain insights into a city's employment cycles. The APIs include no information that could identify an individual."
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US Census Bureau Offers Public API For Data Apps

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  • by langelgjm ( 860756 ) on Monday July 30, 2012 @03:55PM (#40821491) Journal

    That's not how Census information is either collected or stored. First off, there are two different data sources at issue - the decennial census, which gathers a very limited set of information on (theoretically) every person in the country, and the American Community Survey, which uses sampling to get estimates on a much wider range of information. You cannot link those two datasets, since the only public factors they share are far too broad - e.g., age, race, sex, etc., and the time periods during which they are conducted are totally different.

    Besides, the information is not released at person-level. The lowest level you can get sampled information at (e.g., the detailed ACS stuff) is the "block group", which on average contains 39 blocks. You can get decennial census information at the block level, and a "block" may correspond to a city block, or a much larger area for lesser-populated areas.

    So, you can find some interesting information about your city street (I've looked up my own, and found the number of people living alone, owning/renting, age, sex, etc. for the 24 houses on my block), but these data are not per person, they are per block - in other words, if there is only one Native American living on my street, I cannot then find out whether they are owning/renting. I can only find out the number of renters on the entire block.

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"