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Neighborhoods by Numbers: An Introduction to Finding and Using Small Area Data

A new resource from the Center for Community Progress, Neighborhoods by Numbers: An Introduction to Finding and Using Small Area Data helps practitioners make sense of and use small area data in planning and revitalization decisions.  Easy to follow and written for the non-statisticians among us, this accessible guide explains where to find relevant data, how to interpret it and how to use it in planning and communications efforts.

The report’s first section discusses available data sources, focusing considerable attention on U.S. Census data and its many uses, but also looking at other federal and local data sources, and even offering guidance for users to generate their own data sources, such as property surveys. Author Alan Mallach also cautions readers about the specific pitfalls of different data sources.

The second section concerns how to use the data from various sources, noting “Data can tell a story, but only if you ask it the right questions.” The report guides readers through the questions to ask, helping determine the appropriate geography for analysis and explaining how to identify precisely what the user wants to know and apply the right data sets to those questions.

Additional sections cover how to set up and manage a data project from start to finish as well as how to tell a story using data. The latter section includes tips to create compelling maps, reports, infographics and presentations. A set of appendices includes a glossary of terms as well as links to data sources and additional reference guides on data use and effective communications.

Download the full report.