Thematic Mapping of Small Area ACS 5yr. Estimate Data and Census 2010 Data; Tips for Utilizing Censu...
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Thematic Mapping of Small Area ACS 5yr. Estimate Data and Census 2010 Data; Tips for Utilizing Census Products in your GIS May 2011. Items covered in this Presentation:. 1. American Community Survey (ACS) data use guidance; ACS vs. 2010 Census.

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  • Thematic Mapping of Small Area ACS 5yr. Estimate Data and Census 2010 Data; Tips for Utilizing Census Products in your GIS

  • May 2011

Items covered in this presentation

Items covered in this Presentation:

  • 1. American Community Survey (ACS) data use guidance; ACS vs. 2010 Census.

  • 2. Where to find data from 2010 Census and American Community Survey (and where to find information on how to use it in GIS).

  • 3. Overview of Basic Steps for utilizing Census data to create thematic maps or use the data for spatial analysis.

  • 4. The future of Master Address File/Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing system (MAF/TIGER) updates.

Overview documentation available online at http www census gov geo www tiger wwtl wwtl html

Overview Documentation available online at:

*** This is where to start for using Census data in GIS.

2010 results and u s house of representatives

2010 results and U.S. House of Representatives:

Census 2010 data releases

Census 2010 Data Releases

  • 1. State-level counts were released in December, and these have been used to reapportion Congress.

  • 2. Counts for each county, city, tract, blockgroup, block, etc. have been released.

  • 3. This data released in the 2010 Census Redistricting Data Summary Files (more data will be released in SF1, and further products). All will be available in the new American Fact Finder system.

Data is collected from individuals aggregate data is released by geographic entity

Data is collected from individuals; aggregate data is released by geographic entity

Acs data use guidance

ACS Data Use Guidance

  • 1. 2010 Census shows numbers and basic characteristics (sex, age, race, hispanic origin, and homeowner status).

  • 2. All ACS data are estimates derived from a sample of the United States rather than the whole population. Margin of Error (MOE) is published for each ACS estimate. 250K households in sample each month, 3 million sampled per year.

  • 3. 2005-2009 ACS estimates represent data collected from January 1, 2005 through December 31, 2009.

  • 4. Much more information/guidance can be found at:

Acs data release schedule

ACS Data Release Schedule

Data products are released in the year following the single year or multiyear period in which data are collected. ACS data includes median home value, median income, percent foreign-born, percent without health insurance, etc. This type of demographic data for small areas (down to tract and block group for the 5yr data) has not been released from Census since the 2000 long form data releases. This data replaces the data formerly collected via the Census long form.

Items covered in this presentation


Using census data for thematic mapping or analysis is 4 step process

Using Census Data for Thematic Mapping or Analysis is 4 step process

  • 1. Download appropriate vintage and entity(s) of TIGER/Line shapefiles.

  • 2. Define the data extract from American Fact-Finder or American Fact Finder 2 (or FTP complete tables).

  • 3. Manipulate/recalculate tabular data as needed to get the variable you need, and a GEOID field that will match the shapefiles.

  • 4. Join/Link the TIGER shapefiles to the tabular data using the GEOID, and symbolize/use as appropriate.

Discuss handouts

Discuss Handouts

To get tiger line shapefiles go to www census gov then click on tiger

To get TIGER/Line shapefiles, go to, then click on TIGER

Items covered in this presentation

  • ACS 2005-2009 requires use of 2009 TIGER, Census 2010 data requires 2010 TIGER.



Items covered in this presentation

Download tabular data from American Fact Finder (AFF). The legacy AFF system will be phased out in 2011, but new AFF does not have 2005-2009 ACS 5yr estimates. All 2010 data is in new AFF, and all future data releases will be in new AFF.

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You may need to calculate a new value for your map. In this example, I am dividing estimated number of persons living in poverty by the total estimated persons, and multiplying by 100 to get the percent living in poverty.Oftentimes I’ve found it is easier to calculate values for new values outside of GIS software.

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To join your tabular data to the shapefile you use versions of the GEO_ID field:In the tract shapefile – CTIDFP00In the ACS data table – GEO_ID2

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Much care should be used when deciding on thematic cartographic symbolization, and categorization of data. Consult Thematic Cartography texts/experts as needed. For the poverty map, I considered different classification breaks, and opted for the Jenks classification on the left.

2 distinct cultural traits separated by 150 years similar spatial pattern

2 distinct cultural traits separated by 150 years… similar spatial pattern.

Working with 2010 census data

Working with 2010 Census Data

  • Data downloads from AFF2, or use Redistricting Summary files (see Tech Tips on Redistricting/Census website).

  • Data uses Geography from 2010 TIGER.

  • - Data is available for all geographic levels including the block level.

Geo id for our census block

GEO ID for our Census Block:

  • 131210119002026

  • 13 121 011900 2026

  • 13 - state code (GA)

  • 121 - county code (Fulton)

  • 011900 - tract code (aka 119, or 119.00)

  • 2026 - block code (first digit is BG)

Further info on using census data in gis

Further Info on Using Census Data in GIS

  • GA Department of Community Affairs has joined Redistricting Data Tables with 2010 TIGER/Line and a number of geographies are available for download, including county, place, tract, block group, block, SLDU, SLDL:


  • If you are interested in hosting any Census Data Workshop, let us know. Types include: Basics (90 min.), Advanced (3-4 hrs.), Proposal Writing and Not-for Profit (2.5 hrs.), Media and Communication Directors (1.5 hrs.), Using Data in GIS (3 hrs.), and custom.

  • ArcGIS extension for mapping ACS data and incorporating data reliability information being developed at George Mason University, and tool expected sometime this year…

The future of maf tiger updates

The Future of MAF/TIGER Updates…

  • Need for Continuous updating of MAF/TIGER to support ongoing surveys such as ACS, and decennial Census operations.

  • Geographic Support System (GSS) budget initiative moving forward in FY2011. Census pursuing funding for 2012 on…

  • Reliance on local GIS data-sharing partnerships will likely increase. Local governments have the BEST data.

  • “Rolling” LUCA..? Web-based partnership systems..? GSS working groups are researching and planning cost-effective methodologies for continuous MAF/TIGER feature and address updates… stay tuned!



  • Wes Flack, Geographic Coordinator


  • Nancy Bechler, Geographer


  • Atlanta Regional Census Center

  • 404-332-2711


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