|Author:||Daniel J. Pfeifer|
|Title:||CensusCD+Maps ver. 2.01|
|Publication Info:||Ann Arbor, MI: MPublishing, University of Michigan Library
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CensusCD+Maps ver. 2.01
Daniel J. Pfeifer
vol. 1, no. 2, November 1998
|Article Type:||Software Review|
CensusCD+Maps, ver. 2.01
Wake Forest University
CensusCD+Maps ver. 2.01, by GeoLytics Corporation, March 1998, $249.
GeoLytics Corporation has produced an impressive statistical snapshot of the late twentieth century United States. Of course, the elements of this mathematical photo are taken from freely available U.S. census data for the year 1990 and several previous censuses. A monumental amount of information from the most recent population surveys in the U.S. is assembled onto one easy-to-use CD. After a few minutes of exploring and learning how to query the data, the user can find information ranging from total population to household income.
GeoLytics Corporation is a private company that specializes in producing software to analyze geographically based information. CensusCD+Maps is an impressive upgrade of GeoLytics' main product, CensusCD.
For statisticians who work with Census data, the familiar categories and variables should be easy to manipulate. Most of the information is fairly intuitive even if the user does not have a strong background in population statistics. The geographic breakdowns include ranges from the national level to neighborhoods and tracts. Within each of the categories, the user can choose sub-sections. For example, a person could choose to view population data from the national level. They could then select any combination of the sub-categories — northeast, midwest, south, or west.
The statistical classifications on the CensusCD are exhaustive. For the 1990 Census alone, the software contains over 3400 variables. If that is not enough, the user can define formulas to relate the various pieces of data together. In addition, a special county time series of data is available for research involving the past three decades. There are also projection figures for the years 1997 and 2002. And finally, the CD contains historical population counts from 1790 to 1990 tabulated from the county level.
One of the most striking features of the CensusCD+Maps package is the "+Maps." For each query that a user generates, he or she also has the option of producing a color-coded map. The user then has the option of browsing the data from the variable list or by pointing-and-clicking on a geographic area on the map. For population analysis based on the historical counts (1790 to 1990) or any other analysis for that matter, a user could print a series of maps for visual comparison.
Another commendable quality of CensusCD+Maps is its export function. Query data can be saved as a variety of databasing formats (including GIS for the maps) and then placed into the context of larger research. The export function is vital for those studying trends of more than a decade in length. It is nice to see that GeoLytics believes in the compelling functionality of its product rather than trying to trap the user with the bait of accessible information.
Like all good snapshots, this one definitely impresses and leaves the viewer feeling overwhelmed. It certainly does not lack for detail. But like all snapshots in general, there are edges, both physical and historical. The 1990 census is the main emphasis of this software and the reason it exists, but the additional data provided, like the county time series, is not to be ignored.
For the person with an IBM computer running Windows 95 wanting to do serious "data mining" into the 1990 census and the previous decades, CensusCD is a worthy purchase, even at $249 for a single copy. Mac users and more casual observers will want to go to the web for U.S. population information (http://www.census.gov) or encourage their university library to buy the software.