Cross-blog post by John H. Thompson, Director, U.S. Census BureauWhen you think of the U.S. Census Bureau, you probably think of surveys and statistics. But did you know that geography is also a big part of our work? Geography plays an important role in creating surveys and collecting data, and it provides meaning and context for our statistics. The Census Bureau conducts research on geographic and address topics, makes reference maps to support censuses and surveys, and creates tools to visualize geographic and statistical data.The Census Bureau’s history of mapping population data dates back to the 1860s. Under the direction of Census Superintendent Francis Amasa Walker and Chief Geographer Henry Gannett, the Bureau produced the Statistical Atlas of the United States, a landmark publication that contained innovative data visualization and mapping techniques.A century later, the Census Bureau was a leader in the early development of computer mapping. In the 1970s, James Corbett of the Statistical Research Division devised a system of map topology that assured correct geographic relationships. His system provided a mathematical base for most future Geographic Information Systems (GIS) work and helped spark the development of computer cartography.However, at that time, the Census Bureau still relied heavily on paper maps. Census Bureau geographers and cartographers used some computer-scanned mapping files, covering about 280 metropolitan areas, to create paper maps for enumerators to use. For the rest of the nation, paper maps came from a variety of sources, varied in quality and scale, and were quickly outdated.
Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.Guest blog post by Rolena Chuyate, Information Technology Specialist, Administrative and Management Systems Division for the U.S. Census Bureau
I work as an Information Technology
(IT) Specialist in the Administrative and Management Systems Division (AMSD)
for the U.S. Census Bureau. My
key responsibilities include supporting the applications software within the
AMSD Division as well as supporting the Commerce Business Systems (CBS). My job requires a combination of trouble
shooting and problem solving as well as providing customer support. My entire professional career has been in
public service of which 25 years have been at the Census Bureau. At the Census Bureau, I have worked in
different IT fields – as a UNIX, Linux, and VAX/VMS System Administrator, as a
Systems Analyst responsible for installing/configuring SAS software, and as a C
programmer. Prior to that, I worked for the USDA in
Austin, TX as a Mathematical Statistician.
From 2003 to 2006, I was given an
opportunity to serve as a liaison to the Census Bureau’s Advisory Committee on
the American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) population. The AIAN Committee is one of the Census
Bureau’s Five Race and Ethnic Advisory Committees (REAC) which provide a
continuing channel of communication between the AIAN community and the Census
Bureau. Serving as a liaison, gave me an
opportunity for better understanding of the Decennial operations at the Census
Bureau. It also provided an insight of how
the Census Bureau worked with the AIAN Committee in obtaining
an accurate count of the American Indian population.
In 2011, the Commerce Department's U.S. Census Bureau continued to provide quality statistics to governments and businesses to inform the decisions that affect everyone’s lives. These statistics touch every aspect of Americans’ lives–health, crime, income, education, labor force participation, housing conditions, consumer expenditures and a host of others.While we have plenty to be proud of, here we highlight some of this year’s big successes.