MICHELLE THOMPSON: From the early days in Egypt, when fishermen were counting the day's catch, we've always depended upon data to make decisions. There is a national movement headed by the Urban Institute to make data available in compatible formats for local and national socioeconomic analysis. The goal of the National Neighborhood Indicator Partnership, or NNIP, is to make data and information formerly unusable or inaccessible available to government entities and to the public.
There continues to be a wide gap, known as the technology gap, between those who have been able to understand and utilize the data and those who are developing next generation tools and models for analysis, such as geographic information systems. Data used by the NNIP comes from schools, hospitals, police and fire departments, historic districts, health and assessing departments. It's data that we know and are familiar with.
The importance of this information, however, lies in the fact as to whether you were in Boston or Oakland, the method of how you define teen birth rates, for example, are the same. Comparisons within neighborhoods or nationally can be made easier and with more confidence because the apples are being compared to apples, statistically speaking. Importance of NNIP indicators are that they are not whole numbers, but they're rates, percentages, and ratios. The methodology for developing rates, such as teen birth rates, is consistent with the communities across all of the NNIP partners.
Now, where does the end in IP data come from? How do planners develop these plans for five, 10, and 15 years? All of these things we'll be able to talk about shortly in another segment, but it's important to understand that the basic foundation of data collection-- as an instrument used in the United States, a lot of this has come from the Census. Every 10 years, we're asked to provide our government with information from our households in order for them to make policy decisions at the federal, state, and local level. And monies are allocated for these services. This chart shows the type of data that is collected and at what level.
Today, however, we'll be focusing on census tract and block level. And also, we'll be talking a little bit about the national data. But in order to discuss parcel level data, we need to use assessing data. And that is not typically folded into the census information. But we will learn about that in a moment.
As you can see from the Census glossary, there are a number of terms that will be important in our discussion today. But let's just quickly review a few Census terms that will be important for you to understand, such as the block. In the context of a city, the city block is the delineation of the size. But in the country, it may be the size of a farm.
A tract is a collection of blocks, but these are usually based upon 4,000 persons on average. So it isn't bounded by a physical domain. And a place is typically a city. One of the most important pieces of information in the Census for use in GIS is the FIPS code.
If you go to the Census website, there is a wonderful summary of how the levels of information relate to each other. Once again, a group of census blocks becomes a census group. Multiple census groups become census tracks. And the aggregation of census tracks become a place or a city. We'll discuss some of the analysis possible using the Census website in this room.
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Map making is an event that we perform everyday. Whether we try to figure out the best route to a neighborhood park or travel cross-country, all of us "make maps." The process of creating maps for academic research is very much the same.
Data is gathered about a specific place, verified by theoretical or applied means and analysis is rendered. The ability of applied research to create sophisticated "maps" has been profoundly enhanced by using geographic information systems (GIS).
GIS allows users to create, collect, analyze and visualize data in a integrated database for use in a wide array of disciplines. Community based planners can utilize GIS along with contemporary data and local knowledge for capacity-building and long-term sustainability. The use of parcel information and census data as a 'data package' will be explored in this study room.
This video is part 2 of 8 in the Applied GIS: Turning Data into Information series.