CEN Data Browsing

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Discussion

The short version: AFF is gone, nothing there to dz-Dot -- use this instead...

As of March 31, 2020, the U.S. Census AFF (American Fact Finder) site is no longer offered by the Bureau. This means that there is no longer a tool at the Census site to browse for data in a repeatable manner, and therefore dataZoa cannot use its typical dz-Dot method for drag-and-drop data access to the data that was served served by AFF. Essentially, the traditional human pathways to the AFF data no longer exist. There are human-oriented search tools at the Census that will use their API to navigate and find data values for you, but they do not provide the locations of the values such that you can revisit the same data.

To keep this valuable information available and current in dataZoa, there is a tool at dataZoa.com that lets you browse that data and then commit it (and its location!) to your dataZoa account so that it can stay up to date and grow over time, in the manner of all other dataZoa sources.


Select Parameters to Browse Data section

In this section you are drilling down to data of interest by gradually tightening specifications until a single, repeatable fact is resolved. The selection fields proceed from top to bottom. As you make selections, the page interacts with the Census.gov API every step of the way to determine what then choices should be for the next level down. The choices and also the types of choices are very much path-dependent.

The first few choices are similar in structure:

  • Survey offers a list of supported census surveys, extensively documented here. dataZoa covers only the most important Surveys, but more are added from time to time.
  • Year dynamically shows all of the years offered for the selected Survey.
    A note of caution about the latest year shown: Its Survey data can can be a sparse or volatile "work in progress," so you may want to select a prior year for more stable results!

Next comes the specification of Survey Variable Groups and/or Variables. This can range from quite simple (e.g. the Population Estimates Surveys have only a couple of Variables) to sprawling (e.g. ACS) with hundreds of choices. For the sprawling, complicated cases, our page scans bits and pieces of the data descriptions from the Census to let you bubble interesting matching parts towards the top of the select list.

The final set of selections is for Geographic scope and location. Again, as you make Geography selections, the page interacts with the Census API to provide appropriate choices. Note that data availability depends entirely on the actual underlying Survey. The field labelled "GeoCoding" is dynamically updated as selections are made, to show the underlying Census encoding for users who are more comfortable with that format.

At the bottom of the Parameters Section there is a display of the actual Census API calls being built, for handy reference.

Data Comparison Columns section

When all of parameters are selected, you do a trial data fetch and examine the results. You can tweak parameters if needed and re-fetch. When you are satisfied that the trial fetch is right for the data you seek, you can Send the Series to dataZoa.

The two data comparison columns show:

  • A Test fetch from the Census.gov API using the parameters. Note that the results shown are lightly processed for readability. To see the exact information returned from the Census API, you can copy and paste the underlying "API Calls" from the top section right into another browser window.
  • A dataZoa Fetch with formal processing of titles, NA handling, footnotes, etc. When satisfied, Send this Series to dataZoa!

A Special note for dataZoa API users

If you routinely use the dataZoa API for automated data collection and maintenance, the "GeoCoding" shown in the upper section of this page can be a key time saver, as a model for iterating over various counties, MSAs, etc.!