Friday, June 14, 2013

Circular Area Profiles: Getting Data Within A Set Distance From An Address

The very talent people at the Missouri Census Data Center (MCDC) are presently offering a GREAT tool for assembling data for an area in concentric circles around a specific location. In other words, say you want to locate a business at a specific corner in the City of Utica. You can use this tool to give you demographic, economic, social and housing profiles within a given radius (say within 5 miles) of that corner. Previously Census 2000 tools have been able to provide  this, but this is the first one I have seen that works now with both the 2010 Census as well as the most recent five year American Communities Survey data from 2011.

The "circular area profiles," as the MCDC is calling them, requires a user to input the latitude and longitude of the location being targeted, along with a few other minor things like giving the circular area a name, etc., in order to generate the profiles. So say we wanted to know about an area within 5 miles of the SUNYIT Campus in Marcy. The website provides a Google map application which allows you to type in the address of the location you are interested in and gives you the coordinates for that point. The lat-long coordinates for SUNYIT are 43.135118 and -75.229109, for example. If you type these coordinates into the appropriate boxes and then select a ring of 5 miles, you can then generate all sorts of information about the local population. The tool also allows you to pick multiple distances from the same point, so you could ask for data at a 5 mile, 15 mile, and 25 mile circle, all at the same time. Here is just a tip-of-the-iceberg sample:

The program is a beta level test project at the moment so it may still have a few kinks. But the good people at the MCDC deserve a heap of credit and a bushel of thanks for their fine work on this project !