The U.S. Census Bureau launched a new, interactive and redesigned census.gov website today as it celebrates 20 years on the Web. In 1994, the Census Bureau was among the first government agencies to create a public website, and the newest version offers many updated features to make finding and exploring statistics on America's people, places and economy easier for the nearly 5 million visitors who traffic the site every month.
"Our goal has always been to democratize the statistics we produce &mdas; to put them directly in the hands of the American people to make decisions based on accurate and factual data," Census Bureau Director John H. Thompson said. "The tools we use have changed over the years, and this redesigned website is our latest innovation to give statistical information we collect from the people, back to the people."
The new census.gov serves as a front door to the vast amount of statistics the Census Bureau produces on an annual basis. When census.gov first went live in 1994, the information published on the site contained 1990 Census results, which previously would have been released in printed publications. Today, the Census Bureau's site provides billions of statistics from not only the once-a-decade census and every five-year economic census, but also monthly economic statistics and detailed demographic statistics such as those from the American Community Survey.
"The Census Bureau's centuries-old mission reached a turning point 20 years ago as it entered the digital age," Thompson said. "Instead of looking up tables on magnetic tapes and in massive books available only in libraries, you could find the reports online on our site. Today, our new website gives the public 24/7 access to statistics about our ever-growing and changing population and economy with intuitive tools to access them."
The redesigned census.gov provides multiple entry points to data through new topic-based navigation, which centralizes statistical content from numerous surveys around 11 key topics. Additionally, many pages now include links to related content to more easily connect users with similar, relevant information.
The new design incorporates years of customer feedback and metrics showing challenges with navigating and searching the site. The census.gov home page and main topic pages were redesigned to provide improved access to information with featured content and data tools. In the coming months, all of the census.gov site will transition to the new look.
The Census Bureau will upgrade the site's search function in the coming months. The new smart search feature will provide statistics for income, poverty and population along with traditional results, using combinations of keywords and locations. For example, if a user types in "Population of California," the latest population statistics along with links related to California's population will appear.
In addition, business information will be easier to access through the expansion of the smart search function to include NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) codes. This enhancement is one way business leaders can use Census Bureau data to find information essential to their industries.
Over the past 20 years, the Census Bureau's online tools have evolved with changing technology from static maps to interactive maps available both online and on mobile devices, making Census Bureau statistics easier to access than ever before.
Census Explorer -- The newest mapping tool from the Census Bureau provides a look at how demographic topics from the 2012 American Community Survey have changed since the 1990 and 2000 censuses. In addition, Census Explorer now provides statistics from the County Business Patterns program, which covers the number of establishments in the U.S., number of employees and average pay.
Application programming interface -- The Census API lets developers customize Census Bureau statistics in their Web or mobile apps. The API was recently updated to include the Census Bureau's economic indicators. In addition, the API offers data from the American Community Survey and the 2010, 2000 and 1990 censuses.
dwellr mobile app -- The newest app from the Census Bureau allows people to compare their preferences to find 25 "ideal" cities or towns, based on statistics from the American Community Survey, that best fit their lifestyle. Users can check their current locations and share their results on Facebook and Twitter.
America's Economy mobile app -- The app provides real-time updates for 20 key economic indicators from the Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics and Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Data visualizations - A weekly set of graphics show Census Bureau statistics in new and exciting ways. Topics expand beyond decennial census data to include the full breadth of Census Bureau data sets and subject areas, from household and family dynamics, to migration and geographic mobility, to economic indicators.
Population Clock - Look at a live count of the U.S. and world populations through this tool. The tool is embeddable and shows different population characteristics from previous years.
Easy Stats - This embeddable data tool displays selected social and economic characteristics from the American Community Survey.
MAF/TIGER - The Master Address File/Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing system is a digital (computer-readable) geographic database that automates the mapping and related geographic activities required to support the Census Bureau's census and survey programs. TIGER shows land attributes, such as roads, buildings, rivers and lakes, as well as census tracts.