Self-promotion

acs.R version 1.2: Now, with 2012 data

Posted by Ezra Glenn on January 22, 2014
Census, Code, Self-promotion / No Comments

As some of you have noticed, the new five-year Census ACS data has just come out, and is now available via the Census API. To make sure you are able to fetch the freshest possible data to play with in R, I’ve updated the acs.R package to version 1.2, which now includes full support for the 2008–2012 ACS data.

The latest version is now available on the CRAN repository. If you’ve already installed the package in the past, you can easily update with the update.packages() command; if you’ve never installed it, you can just as easily install it for the first time, by simply typing install.packages(“acs”). In either case, be sure to load the library after installing by typing library(acs), and install (or re-install) an API key with api.key.install() — see the documentation and the latest version of the acs user guide for more info.

To get the latest data, just continue to use the acs.fetch() function as usual, but specify endyear=2012. (By default, endyear is set to 2011 if no year is explicitly passed to acs.fetch, and I didn’t want to change this for fear of breaking existing user scripts. In the future, we might to rethink this, so that it selects the most recent endyear by default. Thoughts?)

(Note: If you’re not sure which version you are using, you can always type packageVersion(“acs”) to find out.)

acs.R version 1.1: PUMAs and Zip Codes and MSAs, Oh My!

Posted by Ezra Glenn on July 14, 2013
Census, Code, Self-promotion / No Comments

Development continues on the acs package for R, with the latest update (version 1.1) now officially available on the CRAN repository. If you’ve already installed the package in the past, you can easily update with the update.packages() command; if you’ve never installed it, you can just as easily install it for the first time, by simply typing install.packages(“acs”). In either case, be sure to load the library after installing by typing library(acs), and install (or re-install) an API key with api.key.install() — see the documentation and the latest version of the acs user guide (which still references version 1.0).

Beyond improvements described in a previous post about version 1.0, the most significant change in the latest version is support for many more different combinations of census geography via the geo.make function. As described in the manual and on-line help, users can now specify options to create user-defined geographies composed of combinations of states, counties, county subdivisions, tracts, places, blockgroups (all available in the previous version), plus many more: public use microdata areas (PUMAs), metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), combined statistical areas (CSAs), zip code tabulation areas, census regions and divisions, congressional district and state legislative districts (both upper and lower chambers), American Indian Areas, state school districts (of various types), New England County and Town Areas (NECTAs), and census urban areas. These geographies can be combined to create 25 different census summary levels, which can then even be bundled together to make even more complex geo.sets.

Once created and saved, these new user-defined geo.sets can be fed into the existing acs.fetch function to immediately download data from the ACS for these areas, combining them as desired in the process (and handling all those pesky estimates and margins of error in statistically-appropriate ways.)

We encourage you to update to the latest version and begin to explore the full power of the census data now available through the Census American Community Survey API. (And be sure to subscribe to the acs.R user group mailing list to be informed of future improvements.

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Now on CRAN: acs.R version 1.0

Posted by Ezra Glenn on June 25, 2013
Census, Code, Self-promotion / No Comments

We are pleased to announce that the acs.R package is now ready for prime-time: version 1.0 was officially released last week and is now available on CRAN.1 This version, developed in partnership with the Puget Sound Regional Council, includes all the enhancements described in this post, plus additional tweaks, and lots of documentation.

Just to recap, as of version 1.0:

  • The package is now capable of downloading data directly from the new Census American Community Survey API and importing into R (with proper statistical treatment of estimates and error, variable and geographic relabeling, and more), all through a single “acs.fetch()” function;
  • The package includes a new “geo.make()” function to allow users to create their own custom geographies for organize and download data; and
  • The package provides two special “lookup” tools to help filter through all the existing Census geographies (with the “geo.lookup()” function) and tables (with the “acs.lookup()” function) to find exactly what they want. The acs.lookup function return new “acs.lookup” objects which can be saved, manipulated, and passed to acs.fetch() for downloading data.

I’ve also updated the user guide (version 1.0), which includes step-by-step instructions for working with the package, plus an extended example in the appendix on using blockgroup-level ACS data to create your own neighborhood geographies. (You can also view the complete package manual from the CRAN site.)

Finally, if you’re interested in staying in touch with the ongoing development of the package, be sure to sign up for the acs.R user group mailing list: to register, visit http://mailman.mit.edu/mailman/listinfo/acs-r.

Footnotes:

1 Note: the latest version of this package is actually 1.01, which includes a few additional big-fixes.

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acs-r Mailing List: keep in the loop

Posted by Ezra Glenn on April 24, 2013
Census, Code, Self-promotion / No Comments

We’re pleased to announce the creation of a new mailing list for the acs.R package. The “acs” package allows users to download, manipulate, analyze, and visualize data from the American Community Survey in R; the “acs-r” e-mail list allows members to keep in touch and share information about the package, including updates from the development team concerning improvements, user questions and help requests, worked examples, and more. To register, visit http://mailman.mit.edu/mailman/listinfo/acs-r.

Clash of Clans Online Hack and Cheat

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acs Package at Upcoming Conference: UseR! 2012

Posted by Ezra Glenn on April 09, 2012
Census, Code, Self-promotion / No Comments

I’m happy to report that I’ll be giving a paper on my acs package at the 8th annual useR! conference, Coming June 12-15th to Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. The paper is titled “Estimates with Errors and Errors with Estimates: Using the R acs Package for Analysis of American Community Survey Data.” Here’s the abstract:


"Estimates with Errors and Errors with Estimates: Using the R acs
Package for Analysis of American Community Survey Data"
Ezra Haber Glenn

Over the past decade, the U.S. Census Bureau has implemented the
American Community Survey (ACS) as a replacement for its traditional
decennial ``long-form'' survey.  Last year—for the first time
ever—ACS data was made available at the census tract and block group
level for the entire nation, representing geographies small enough to
be useful to local planners; in the future these estimates will be
updated on a yearly basis, providing much more current data than was
ever available in the past.  Although the ACS represents a bold
strategy with great promise for government planners, policy-makers,
and other advocates working at the neighborhood scale, it will require
them to become comfortable with statistical techniques and concerns
that they have traditionally been able to avoid.

To help with this challenge the author has been working with
local-level planners to determine the most common problems associated
with using ACS data, and has implemented these functions as a package
in R.  The package—currently hosted on CRAN in version 0.8—defines
a new ``acs'' class object (containing estimates, standard errors, and
metadata for tables from the ACS), with methods to deal appropriately
with common tasks (e.g., combining subgroups or geographies,
mathematical operations on estimates, tests of significance, plots of
confidence intervals, etc.).

This paper will present both the use and the internal structure of the
package, with discussion of additional lines of development.

Hope to see you all there!

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EHG on WGBH “Innovation Hub”

Posted by Ezra Glenn on November 13, 2011
Self-promotion / No Comments

The other day I was included in a panel discussion on WGBH’s “Innovation Hub,” a weekly radio show about examining new ideas and potential solutions to today’s many challenges.”  The theme was “A Better City, One Street At A Time,” and the session included me, along with host Kara Miller, as well as co-panelists Cara Seiderman from the City of Cambridge and Aaron Naparstek, founder and former editor-in-chief of Streetsblog.

If you follow the link, you can listen to the entire show online.  Be sure to listen to the end, where I get in a good plug for the importance of keeping cities affordable and well as “livable.”

SYN on Walmart.com

Posted by Ezra Glenn on October 18, 2011
Self-promotion, Shape Your Neighborhood / No Comments

I was pleased to see my book, Shape Your Neighborhood: How to Use Public Data for Community Advocacy and Activism, listed for sale on Walmart.com.  My guess is that they don’t know how subversive the book will be—including a section on this great visualization from Flowing Data on the spread of Walmart.  (Of course, how could they know about this section, since I haven’t even finished writing the book yet…)

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Magic tricks for public meetings

Posted by Ezra Glenn on October 09, 2011
Self-promotion / No Comments

Self-promotion: The newsletter of the MIT Alumni Association ran a nice piece on a workshop I ran a while back on using magic tricks in public meetings.  I especially liked this photo, which helps illustrate the way that making a mess can help lighten the mood of a meeting (and can call our attention to the potential to make a real mess if we don’t work together and develop good plans…).

 

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New American FactFinder: initial grumbling

Posted by Ezra Glenn on October 07, 2011
Census, Self-promotion / No Comments

The Census Bureau continues to roll out the latest data from the American Community Survey, last month announcing the availability of the first real nationwide data for 2010 in the form of the 1-year ACS Estimates.  I’ve been conducting some trainings on how to get and use ACS data for local-level community planning (self promotion: check out the Mel King Institute’s training in Boston, or wait for us to offer it again), which has prompted me to pay some more attention to the new “American FactFinder” platform, which has prompted me to write this post.

Continue reading…

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