We all know the U.S. Census. Once a decade, on the “zero” years, we fill out a form. But what do we really know? The decennial census has been conducted since 1790, as mandated by the U.S. Constitution. Article I, Section 2 states that:
“Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers . . . The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.”
Then there is the American Community Survey, an ongoing survey that provides a way to collect data every year. It is sent out to roughly 3 million US addresses yearly. According to the ACS web site, information from the survey generates data that help determine how more than $400 billion in federal and state funds are distributed each year. But beyond investment allocation and congressional reapportionment and redistricting, census data is also a staple of civic tech projects. Census data is used to source common denominators, it is used for benchmarking, and is key for determining trends. Think about how many civic tech projects or community organizing efforts rely on the basic knowledge of where the country or state stands in terms of income, education, health insurance, transportation, etc.
Currently, there is a proposal on the table to de-fund the long-form survey. Budget cuts and amendments and concerns about constitutionality and privacy are being brought up as a counter to the argument that defunding portions of the Census will degrade data quality and make it less accessible.
So…let’s learn more about it on May 6th at 6:00pm at the Microsoft Technology Center Chicago!
First, we will have Knight Lab’s Joe Germuska will discuss the CensusReporter.org project. Census Reporter was created to make it easy for journalists to write stories using US Census data. Census Reporter greatly simplifies finding and using data from the decennial census and the American Community Survey. He will also give you a sneak peek at a project called CitySDK (being rolled out in the US in Chicago first!). CitySDK helps integrate city data and federal data, starting with US Census data.
Then, we will hear from Joan Naymark from Minnesotans for the American Community Survey. She will talk about why Open Data needs census data, will and will define the risk and resolution. Joan will also give us her organizations views on funding for the 2020 Census, and how you can join the discourse, and make your opinion known. It will be a great discussion and I hope you will join us.