APDU Data Viz Award Winners Announced!

APDU received many excellent submissions for the 2018 APDU Data Viz Awards, and our expert review committee has concluded their deliberations. This was a difficult process with such great options to choose from – we are very grateful for the work put into developing and submitting these visualizations.

We would like to thank our review committee for their time and effort in evaluating the submissions. This year, Mike Crow of Crow Insight, Richard Schwinn of the SBA Office of Advocacy, and Ron Nakao of Stanford University served on the committee.

Without further ado, the winners this year include:

Federal Government

USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, “Making it Simple: Accessing U.S. Agricultural Statistics”

  • Sue King, USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service
  • Lorna Drennen, USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service
  • Rui Jiang, Penguin Labs

Researchers and Students

Center for Urban Research, CUNY Graduate Center, “Census 2020 Hard to Count Online Map”

  • Steve Romalewski, Center for Urban Research, CUNY Graduate Center
  • David Burgoon, Center for Urban Research, CUNY Graduate Center
  • Valerie Bauer, Center for Urban Research, CUNY Graduate Center

Researchers and Students

University of Baltimore, “GEOLOOM Co>Map: Cultural Mapping in Baltimore”

  • TJ ODonnnell, University of Baltimore
  • Christine Hwang, University of Baltimore
  • Stepthen Ansari, Blue Rasters
  • Seema Iyer, University of Baltimore

Private Firms

Population Reference Bureau, “Declines in Adult Death Rates Lag in the U.S. South”

  • Mark Mather, Population Reference Bureau
  • Paola Scommegna, Population Reference Bureau
  • Alex Friedhoff, District Analytics
  • Andrew Fenelon, University of Maryland

Congratulations to this year’s winners! Register for the 2018 APDU Annual Conference today to learn from awardees about how they created these excellent visualizations.

Why PolicyMap Loves the APDU Conference

By: Bernie Langer, PolicyMap

The first time I went to APDU, my first reaction was that I’d never before been around so many people who speak my language. We were talking about Census data, BLS data, education data, health data… I was around people who work on the same things that I spend my life working on. It was like visiting my home planet for the first time!

At PolicyMap, we’re concerned with collecting and mapping public data. We have a team that scours the web for new and interesting data, and ideas for what to do with it. We also have users that reach out and tell us what data they want us to add. Keeping up to date is important to us, and something we feel we do well. But just keeping current isn’t enough; we need to be ready to anticipate changes in the data universe.

And that’s why it’s so important to have a conference like APDU, where we can really hear what people around the country (and around the world) are talking about in the realm of public data. Experts, practitioners, data providers, and public officials are all there, discussing their work, their challenges, and their solutions.

One of the most valuable things we get from APDU is hearing from government data providers on the latest in their departments. There are usually various people from the Census speaking on topics ranging from the progress of the upcoming Census to the design of the ACS survey envelope. The Census Bureau isn’t the only game in town, and it’s great hearing from people at other organizations like the BLS and the National Center for Education Statistics.

After two days of sessions and conversations with fellow data people, you start to get a sense of big picture trends in data. Last year, there was a lot of talk about the possible decline of survey data in favor of administrative data and commercial data. Administrative data has really been the buzzword of the decade, and right now, it’s still the Wild West of data. APDU is a great forum for hearing about and discussing the best practices for working in this emerging area.

But what really makes APDU a necessary conference is the opportunity to meet people doing similar work across the country. Some of it is just sharing ideas and talking shop. But thanks to people we’ve met at APDU, we’re working on major new projects that wouldn’t have been otherwise possible.

This year, in addition to our APDU board representative, Elizabeth Nash, we’re sending our new Data Development Lead, Eliza Wallace, who will be attending for the first time. We’re looking forward to hearing about what’s being talked about in public data this year!

APDU Conference: Learn About Data Visualization

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Many of us remember a time not that long ago when we could provide users of our work a table or a spreadsheet, perhaps a few simple graphs, and then call it a day.  Those times are long gone.  Over the past several years those of us who work with data have experienced a major change in expectations among consumers of our work.  Just providing the data is no longer enough.  Users want and expect to see what the data looks like in a more literal way.  More and more, they have come to rely graphic representation to help interpret results and draw conclusions.  APDU has responded by focusing attention on the process of visualizing data, through our Data Viz Awards, our popular training class on Excel and Tableau, and through a session at our upcoming conference.

What key decisions do we need to make to create a successful data visualization?  How can you use data to help drive the story you want to tell?   More importantly, how can we use visualizations to help drive the decision making process?

At the upcoming APDU conference session on “Lessons from the Data Visualization Process” we will hear from three experience and accomplished speakers who have recently developed successful data visualizations.  They will talk about their experience choosing the right tools, making them work for the project, building the visualizations, and how they then used the results to communicate their work to a wider audience.

Intrigued? Join us in Arlington , VA on July 17 and 18, 2018 at APDU’s Annual Conference to learn how to get started on building your next great data viz!

APDU Conference: Find New Data on Children

Data, in its many iterations, is essential material for public and private decision making.  Data helps us interpret the past, chart a course for the future, and/or direct areas for discovery – all in the service of facilitating the decision-making process. The problem with data is it is unruly:  it can be in different forms with different biases; it can be everywhere and nowhere, scattered about with varying degrees of organization and purpose; it can be overwhelming as there is so much of it from so many sources.  Learning to navigate all this data by providing order to it is no easy feat. But when done well the payoff is at least two-fold: (1) decision makers are armed with a valuable tool to make better decisions; and (2) others wrestling with unruly data problems of their own have a possible blue print to bring order to their data.

Take the issue of the well-being of our children, their health, their education: are we being successful in providing the environment for our children to succeed? The answer to this question is something we take great interest in at all levels of society (family, neighborhood, locally, regionally, and nationally).  Fortunately, there is no shortage of data to provide us with insight as to our successes with children or identifying areas where we are falling short.  The trick lies in bringing order to all that unruly data – identifying all the relevant data, bringing order to it, and making it easily accessible – so that we can use it as a powerful tool to inform our decision making.

Imagine a website that brought together data from 35 public data sources with 600 measures of child health and well-being encompassing:

  • Child Safety
  • Children with Special Health Care Needs
  • Demographics
  • Education and Child Care
  • Emotional and Behavioral Health
  • Environmental Health
  • Family Economics
  • Physical Health

This website exists!  Kidsdata.org

Join us in Arlington, Va. July 17th & 18th, 2018 at APDU’s annual conference to learn more about navigating the public data around us by learning how Kidsdata.org was pulled together and how it has been used to inform decision making around children’s issues in the state of California.

APDU Conference: Supporting Federal Statistical Agencies in Congress

Recent proposed funding increases for the Census Bureau suggest that Congress is listening and responding to concerns expressed by the data user community.   However, the reality is other federal statistical agencies are not faring as well, enduring years of, at best, flat funding, and, at worst, funding cuts.  It is clear much work remains to ensure greater funding parity across the federal statistical system.

The 2018 Association of Public Data Users (APDU) Annual Conference is an excellent opportunity for data users to not only learn more about funding challenges facing federal statistical agencies, but also to hone their skills for communicating with policymakers about the value of federal support for statistical agencies, surveys, and data collection.  On July 18, as part of the Washington Update, APDU conferees will hear from Mr. Jim Dyer, former staff director of the House Appropriations Committee. With more than 30 years of legislative experience, Mr. Dyer will provide unique insights into the appropriations process and what APDU members can expect during the ongoing Fiscal Year 2019 deliberations.

For those conferees who are eager to engage policymakers more directly, APDU is offering a special workshop, “Building the Case for Public Statistics.” The workshop, which individuals must register for separately from the APDU conference, will be led by three government relations experts who will educate attendees about how and when to engage policymakers. During the workshop, participants will develop messages and receive feedback from the trainers.  For more information, go to: http://apdu.org/2017/12/18/building-the-case-for-public-statistics-training/.

The APDU conference is happening at a pivotal time during the annual appropriations process. Fiscal Year 2018 ends September 30, and Congress will be acting throughout the summer and, possibly, into the fall to pass all 12 of the Fiscal Year 2019 funding bills.  Come to the 2018 APDU conference to get the latest information about these deliberations and consider taking a deeper dive by attending the supplemental workshop to enhance your communication and presentation skills to policymakers. Hope to see you there!

APDU Conference: “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue”

I am confident that all of you have heard this phrase in association with wedding ceremonies and how the brides prepare for the big event. Well, do you know why this is also an appropriate description for our big event, the APDU Annual Conference, to be held July 17-18, 2018?

A recurring theme throughout the agenda for this summer’s conference is the use of shared data from administrative records and surveys that are integrated in ways to create new and more informative data products for decision making. There are eight sessions focused on this issue and how the linking of administrative records and surveys is being prescribed and executed by federal, state, local and private organizations.

So how does the integration of administrative records and surveys by producers of public data relate to bridal preparations? First, this is not that new a process. Demographers have long combined data from birth and death certificates with census data to estimate fertility, mortality and migration rates. So that is the “Old” element which stands for continuity with the past. The “New” is meant to stand for optimism for the future. The “New” technical developments in record matching are greatly increasing the ability to link individual records from independent sources. However with this increased power have come concerns about privacy issues and maintaining public trust. “Something borrowed” because sharing increases the value of each of the items that are being shared. This requires overcoming legal barriers and institutional boundaries to reap the harvest of shared data. Finally, “something blue” stands for purity in the marriage ceremony. For the production of public data to assist policy making, it means that the integration of administrative records and survey data promise to compensate for the statistical weaknesses of each. The promise of more accurate data that are more representative, reliable and detailed.

I encourage you to accept our invitation to APDU’s Annual Conference, “Shaping The Future: The Promise Of Public Data To Inform Decisions.” Be a part of these exciting developments. Perhaps even bring along a bit of rice or bird seed to toss into the air as we celebrate these developments for public data.

Intermediate Application of Data Sets: Annual Business Survey (ABS)

The ABS is a new survey planned for survey years 2017-2021. The ABS will replace the Survey of Business Owners for employer businesses, the Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs, the Business R&D and Innovation Survey for Microbusinesses, as well as the Innovation component of the Business R&D and Innovation Survey.

The ABS is a joint project between the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. The purpose of the ABS is to reduce respondent burden, increase data quality, reduce operational costs and increase efficiency. The survey will produce annual minority-owned business estimates as well as annual R&D estimates on small employer businesses. Further, the survey will measure new business topics such as innovation and technology as well as other business and business owners characteristics. This webinar will give a background on the ABS, the survey components it has absorbed, and briefly discuss methodology and planned data product tabulation levels.

Presenter:
Naomi Blackman, Supervisory Survey Statistician, US Census Bureau

APDU Data Viz Awards: Call for Visualizations

The Association of Public Data Users (APDU) is pleased to announce the 2018 Data Viz Awards. We are once again soliciting creative and meaningful graphic designs that use publicly-available data (for example, data from the Census Bureau or Bureau of Labor Statistics) to convey a compelling point or story.

About the Award

APDU started the Data Viz Awards in response to our members’ growing need to communicate their data and research to a variety of audiences using graphic technologies and cutting-edge techniques. APDU hopes to engage data users and help them understand and share data for analysis and decision making.

The Data Viz Awards take pride in recognizing eye-catching and easy-to-comprehend images building on publicly-available data. Click here to view the award-winning visualizations from the 2017 APDU Data Viz Awards.

Winners will be invited to present at the 2018 APDU Annual Conference on July 17, 2018 in Arlington, VA. Winners in the “Researchers & Students” category will also receive a free APDU membership for 2018.

What We’re Looking For

APDU will select creative and compelling images, in four categories:

State/Local Government, including independent and quasi-independent agencies;

Federal Government, including independent and quasi-independent agencies;

Private firms, which can include consultancies, advocacy groups, or any other private firms using public data; and

Researchers & Students, which can include any visuals published or formally presented by researchers or students in higher education, think tanks, research organizations, nonprofits, or similar.

Submissions must have been made publicly available between June 2017 and May 2018. We are accepting submissions that appeared in a published research paper or article either in print or on the web, in a public presentation, as a stand-alone infographic, as a website feature, and/or as another official product.

Deadline: Friday, May 25, 2018

Create your own user feedback survey

Intermediate Application of Data Sets: Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW): Introduction and Update

The Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program from the Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes extremely detailed data at the county and industry level. The scale of the data presented by QCEW creates accessibility challenges for data users. Users who can surmount those challenges have access to a rich store of local data.

This webinar will serve as an introduction to the QCEW resource. It also provides tips on how to bring QCEW data to bear on research projects. Finally, it provides an update on QCEW calendar changes and new products.

Presenter:
David Hiles, Supervisory Economist, Bureau of Labor Statistics

State Data Sharing Initiative Reports Released!

We invite you to learn more about how to improve your economic and workforce development outcomes by using evidence to drive decision making.  The Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC) just released the report, “Advancing State Data Sharing for Better Economic and Workforce Development” and the tool “Legal Guide to Administrative Data Sharing for Economic and Workforce Development” that offer important lessons for states interested in enabling the responsible use of administrative records for program research and analysis.

Access to administrative records – wage records and corporate tax filings – can be invaluable for making evidence-based policy decisions.  Yet accessing those records can be difficult.  During the past 18 months CREC has been working with five states to determine solutions to data sharing challenges as part of its State Data Sharing Initiative.  The lessons learned are:

  1. States can “get to yes” by addressing cultural barriers to data sharing
  2. Clearly articulate the laws governing data sharing
  3. States need to dedicate resources to data sharing efforts
  4. Data sharing advocates must manage up and down to gain and sustain support
  5. Standardizing data sharing processes creates meaningful progress

The Legal Guide covers common issues when negotiating an agreement to securely share data and sets out guidance that facilitate the responsible use of administrative data for evidence-based policy making to the full extent of federal and state laws.

CREC has worked on the State Data Sharing Initiative over the past two years to inform more rigorous analysis of economic and workforce development programs by better understanding the barriers to accessing administrative records responsibly.  The project included research on the legislation guiding data sharing in all 50 states, assessments of improvements to evaluation efforts that fully respect taxpayer privacy, and technical assistance to five states that agreed to take significant action on their data sharing policies over an 18-month engagement.  All the research can be found on the website: www.statedatasharing.org.

In addition to these two papers, the State Data Sharing Initiative website also includes a variety of resources including:

  • A summary of key legislative language in all 50 states, plus companion federal legislation
  • A research report on the barriers to data sharing in the 50 states
  • A legal guide for preparing data sharing agreement based on frequently asked questions
  • A toolkit of case studies and examples of successes linked to data sharing
  • A list of relevant publications about a variety of data sharing and management issues
  • An executive highlights report summarizing lessons learned from the project

Check out this free resource, brought to you by CREC with funding support from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.