Posts Tagged ‘Census’

Reviewing the US City Open Data Census Portal of Geospatial Content

The US City Open Data Census portal is “an ongoing, crowdsourced measure of the current state of access to a selected group of datasets in municipalities across the United States.”  The portal represents another example of a trend we have been noting in this blog for quite some time, a catalog that is a combination of crowdsourced and created by the authors.  In this case, “Any community member can contribute an assessment of these datasets in their municipality at any time. Census content will be peer-reviewed periodically by a volunteer team of Census librarians. [..]  The US City Open Data Census began as a partnership between Code for America, the Sunlight Foundation, and Open Knowledge International. It is maintained by Sunlight Foundation staff members, with technical support from Open Knowledge, local outreach by Code for America brigades, advising from the Open Government Data working group, and contributions from many members of the wider community.”

In the case of this site, don’t think “Census” in terms of demographic data gathered by statistical agencies, but rather, “census” as a catalog of geospatial data for municipalities.  The 18 themes currently cataloged for urban areas include crime, parcels, zoning, and others, but also those that are of interest but may be outside typically considered and sometimes a-spatial categories, such as lobbyist activity, web analytics, and spending.  At this time, the site’s focus is on the U.S. only.  Cities are ranked by the variety and amount of data in the catalog, and at the time of this writing, Las Vegas achieved top score. Testing this site, I was able to find quite a volume of data, in many formats that I could use, and in some formats I was not familiar with but was able to find out more about them.  If the data set I needed was not available, which occurred on more than one occasion, the site tells me who to contact.

If a data user wanted to obtain a set of data to compare across cities, this data set would save that data user quite a bit of time scouring each city’s GIS data site.  Therefore, even though the site’s ambitious list of themes are empty for many cities, and in many ways this project is just getting started, this resource may be valuable for your needs.  And in part because it is crowdsourced and curated, it could become even more valuable in the future.  Time will tell if it persists.  And, like any resource, be critical of its sources and use it if you deem that it will meet your needs.



Visualizing data cataloged by the US City Open Data Census portal, ranked by “score”, with a lower number indicating that a greater volume and wider variety of data is available for that city.

National and Subnational Population Data and Maps from US AID and US Census Bureau

March 30, 2014 1 comment

As readers of this blog and our book are aware, when a geodata portal is confusing or inadequate, we are not afraid to say so.  And conversely, when a resource comes along that contains a wealth of content and is actually intuitive to use at the same time, we share that as well.  An example of a new, useful, and intuitive resource comes from the Demographic and Health Surveys of the US AID program and the US Census Bureau.   The site provides detailed demographic data primarily for countries that receive assistance via the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).  The data are available for single countries and also multiple countries through a data package, all of which the user chooses and customizes.  Through the site, the US Census Bureau has added to and updated the online collection of subnational population data linked to maps.  

To access the maps and data, begin at the main website for the project, select Data, select countries, select indicators (variables), select the format (shapefile or geodatabase), and indicate whether you want to download it now in a browser or receive an email when the package is ready.  You can choose up to 25 variables at a time to be included in the package. I tested it and it worked marvelously.  Also, in the near future, the US Census Bureau will release a seamless global map containing population estimates for tens of thousands of subnational administrative areas globally. Wouldn’t it be grand if all sites were this simple to use?  

The Spatial Data Repository provides health and demographic data from The Demographic and Health Surveys Program and the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Spatial Data Repository provides health and demographic data from The Demographic and Health Surveys Program and the U.S. Census Bureau.

Open Data UK Census Pack released

January 13, 2014 1 comment

GeoLytix, a UK-based data provider and consultancy company, have recently released a UK Census Data pack free of charge. The data pack has been made available under the same terms as the source data collected by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), The National Records of Scotland (NRS) and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NIRSA) and is released under the Open Government License (OGL). The data are available at Output Area level, the lowest geographical level at which census estimates are provided. Each output area is ‘... designed to be socially homogeneous and spatially compact and contiguous‘. Output areas are also limited by population and household: at least 40 households/100 individuals in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and 20 households/50 individuals in Scotland.

The data pack contains 197 variables covering 21 themes: 15 themes relating to people (age, status, gender, travel to work and so on) and 6 themes relating to households (including type, size, access to cars).

OA for Merseyside

Output Areas for Merseyside (NW England)