Can You Trust The 2020 Census Data?

After reading up on what the US Census is doing to the 2020 Census data, I have to consider if I can really trust the data to be used for other applications?

You see, the US Census decided to use “differential privacy”, a mathematical technique to introduce statistical noise to “blur” the data. Their reasoning is that because we have powerful computers, anyone could use other data and cross reference the census data to find information on individuals. You can read about it from the US Census here.

However, what happens to the census data, especially at lower levels like the block level, they start messing around with actual numbers of people and other traits like ethnicity, age, sex, etc. For example, according to the US Census, 48 people live on New York’s Liberty Island, but actually no one has lived there since 2012. It also looks like some US States and organizations will be legally challenging the US Census data and the differential privacy technique. To be fair, the US Census has always implemented privacy safeguards using different techniques like “swapping”, but this new technique seems pretty drastic and really not needed. As data scientists duke it out, you can read all about this issue here.

Will you trust the 2020 Census data? You will need to look at it in your own jurisdiction. Burbank’s population strangely went down, so I need to investigate and look at the data more closely. We will need to determine if we can use this data at a tract, block group, or block level to make more informed and accurate decisions. As they say, your mileage may vary. They also say buyer beware!

2020 Census Redistricting Data

It seems like we have been waiting forever for some 2020 Census Data. Well, you can get started with the P.L. 94-171 2020 Census Redistricting Data. It has been available since August 12. You can find the FAQ page for the product here. Keep in mind the redistricting data only includes demographic characteristics by state, county, city, down to the block level:

  • Race and ethnicity.
  • Population 18 years and over.
  • Occupied and vacant housing units.
  • People living in group quarters like nursing homes, prisons, military barracks and college dorms.

Note you will need to merge the data files with the tract/block group/block TIGER/Line Geodatabases. A feat that has become a little more difficult since you need to manipulate the data a bit to do it. You can read the technical document to find out more.

There is another option and probably an easier one.

Continue reading

World Imagery Wayback

World Imagery Wayback is a digital archive, providing users with access to the different versions of world imagery created over time. Each layer in the archive represents a snapshot of the entire World Imagery map, as it existed on the date it was published. Wayback currently provides access to all published versions of World Imagery, dating back to February 20, 2014. There is an ArcGIS Online item for every version which can be accessed directly from this app.

Available versions of the World Imagery map are presented within a timeline and as layers in a list. Versions that resulted in local changes are highlighted in bold white, and the layer currently selected is highlighted in blue. Point and click on the map for additional imagery details within the selected layer. One or more layers can be added to a queue and pushed to a new ArcGIS Online web map. Check it out!

Which Way Are Things Going?

The United States is experiencing the fourth wave of COVID-19 infections, due to the Delta variant of the virus. The mutation with a coinciding spike in cases was expected, but the rampant nature of the spread across the country poses many questions. First and foremost is, Where do I need to be especially careful?

The interactive map “Which Way Are Things Going?” gives a county-by-county view of active cases for a week-by-week perspective on COVID-19 trends. The map aims to provide accurate and actionable information for everyone, with data from state level to county level that makes it easy for anyone to zoom in and see the trends that will help them make decisions about when and where to better safeguard their health and that of their family.

Click below to view the story map.

By the way, the source map is also available in ArcGIS Living Atlas for your use in your own apps, dashboards and story maps.

Open Access to Key Federal Geospatial Data

Working with federal agencies, ESRI is opening up access in ArcGIS Online to dozens of high-priority, high-demand national data layers, often referred to as A-16 data. These include cartographic boundary files and demographic data from the US Census Bureau; National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP) data from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA); and the National Inventory of Dams (NID) database, managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Click below to read more about it!

Imagery MOOC

ESRI has a new massive open online course (MOOC) on Imagery. If you’re interested in test-driving ArcGIS Image for ArcGIS Online, ESRI’s new cloud-based imagery product, or seeing how to bring drone-captured imagery into ArcGIS Pro for visualization and analysis, this no-cost course is a great opportunity. The course is from August 11 to September 22, 2021 and is free. Check it out and sign up!