Guest blog post by Raul Cisneros, director, Center for New Media and Promotion and Rebecca Blash, chief, Center for Enterprise Dissemination Services and Consumer Innovation (CEDSCI), U.S. Census Bureau
The U.S. Census Bureau is committed to operational excellence by making the statistics that define our growing, changing nation more accessible than ever before. In an age of instant communication and 24/7 information sharing, the needs and expectations of the Census Bureau’s data users have changed. We have listened to our customers, and this is what we have heard: Our users want easy access to timely, relevant statistics. They want access anywhere and anytime. And, they want their data to be shareable, embeddable, downloadable and customizable.
In response, the Census Bureau has undertaken a comprehensive digital transformation effort, developing new tools using the latest technologies. Almost 50 million people visit Census.gov annually, and we’ve made major improvements to the site so that they can more easily find the information they want. We also created an application programming interface (API) to increase the accessibility and usability of our data. The API gives developers quick and easy access to an ever-increasing pool of publicly available data, allowing them to create Web or mobile apps. More than 7,000 developers have requested access to the API, and the databases have been queried more than 600 million times. Because these apps subsequently reach new users, they have the added benefit of increasing the circulation of our demographic, socioeconomic and housing statistics even more.
We also want to make our data accessible and appealing to as wide an audience as possible. Our three mobile apps are a good example of this. America’s Economy provides real-time updates of 20 key economic indicators, making it easy for casual or serious followers of the U.S. economy to see the latest trends. Our two other tools, dwellr (an app that helps users discover cities and towns that fit their lifestyle) and Census PoP Quiz (a population challenge quiz), tap into statistical information from the American Community Survey for casual data users.