Announcing Awesome Updates to mySidewalk Datasets

Recently the Census published the 2012-2016 ACS 5-Year Estimates. A large number of mySidewalk datasets come from the American Community Survey (ACS)—an ongoing survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau with nearly 3.5 million respondents who participate every calendar year. The survey consists of hundreds of questions that provide information on population and demographic characteristics for all areas in the United States, including small geographies such as census tracts and census block groups.


What does this mean for mySidewalk customers?

Great news: The 2011-2015 ACS estimates have been fully replaced by the updated 2012-2016 ACS estimates in the mySidewalk application—which is exciting and means that mySidewalk customers don't need to do any work to access or visualize this new data. Our team is going to handle the heavy lifting and everything is currently (and instantly) available to them. 

A few things worth noting:

  • Because the Census Bureau recommends against comparing 5-year estimates of overlapping years, mySidewalk will no longer curate the 2011-2015 ACS estimates.
  • This update will impact saved assets and/or visualizations in mySidewalk that use ACS data, including reports, maps, and dashboards. While the data used on these assets has been updated automatically, the text has remained the same. Text impacted by the new ACS data will need to be updated manually. 
  • Our team of data scientists are planning on incorporating the ACS 5-Year Estimates into our time series datasets in early 2018.

Understanding ACS 5-Year Estimates

The Census Bureau produces the ACS 5-Year Estimates by pooling together the results of the five previous survey years. Using pooled data frame, the Census Bureau generates estimates of thousands of economic and demographic characteristics for the entire United States. Through pooling multiple years of data, the Census Bureau is able to enhance the statistical reliability of the estimates, even though it gives up precision with respect to time. Because they are generated with five years of survey data (as opposed to a single year), the five-year estimates have several interpretative nuances.

  • ACS data are estimates. The Census Bureau collects data from a sample of the population in the United States rather than from the whole population.

  • ACS 5-year estimates represent the average of characteristics over an interval of time (2012-2016) as opposed to a single point in time.

  • Five-year estimates cannot be compared with previously published five-year estimates consisting of overlapping years. For example, do not compare ACS 2012-2016 five year estimates with ACS 2010-2014 five year estimates. However, ACS 5-year estimates may be compared with Decennial Census 2000 and Decennial Census 2010.


Want instant access to the new ACS 5-year estimates?

Connect with our team to access and visualize this data instantly.