Using widgets to responsibly disseminate ACS data

Presentation by Ben Horwitz
September 13, 2012

The Data Center   (New Orleans)

With an average of nearly 8,000 unique monthly visitors, the most heavily trafficked pages on the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center website have always been our neighborhood data pages that feature 353 Census 2000 indicators for each of New Orleans 72 neighborhoods.  With the release of the 2010 Census, we created and published new neighborhood pages, but with only 45 indicators for both 2000 and 2010. Displaying more current high demand data such as income and poverty at the neighborhood level has been vexing because of the high margins of error associated with the 5-year census tract level American Community Survey data. To help users understand and use this data appropriately, we innovated a widget that allows users to test whether two data points are statistically different at the 90th percentile and another widget to help users combine multiple data points and their associated margin of error. We combined these with simple instructions on how to write about this 5-year averaged data in grant proposals. User testing allowed us to refine the format and language to optimize usability. The new data pages and widgets were launched in mid-June and have enjoyed 175 unique visits per day and nearly 1,250 unique visits per week.