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SE’s Co-Founder on 2020 Census Data Products at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine Workshop

FRIDAY, DEC 13, 2019

Social Explorer’s President and co-founder, Prof. Andrew Beveridge, participated in the Workshop on 2020 Census Data Products: Data Needs and Privacy Considerations hosted by the Committee on National Statistics of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Data and social scientists from around the country convened to provide input to the Census Bureau regarding potential changes to the way that census data will be shared with the public. The Census Bureau is considering a new alternative data release for the 2020 Census count which would be created using an algorithm to apply a method that infuses noise into the data to preserve respondent privacy.

Beveridge shared his expertise using census data for redistricting. His presentation showed how this proposed change to the way the Census Bureau reports data would impact redistricting. Using the case of New Rochelle, NY, he examined how actual 2010 census data compares with the new proposed synthetic (noise-infused) data for the same year when used for redistricting analysis. 

Beveridge found that the Synthetic data demonstration product is in not suitable for use in redistricting at the local level, or for any such use where community and neighborhood input is necessary. The proposed data product would:

  1. Skew overall population numbers, making redistricting plans difficult to evaluate for population equality.
  2. Create massive inaccuracies in population counts for racial and ethnic groups.
  3. Change population numbers all the way down to the block level.

As the Workshop presentations demonstrated, there are major decisions ahead that will affect accuracy and usability for redistricting, housing and population.

More information about the conference is available at this website (videos coming soon).

We at Social Explorer will update you with further information Census data proposals and changes.

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