Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The public comments on the web about ACS

An Indiana data detective has been been browsing the web to see what news and information is out there about the American Community Survey, noting that "Google yields about 2 million items when searching for American Community Survey and the top links are to the Census Bureau. However, on the first results page there are a number of blogs referenced that purport to be reactions from recipients of the survey..."

Here is just one of the many links found.

It appears that there is a great deal of concern about the "intrusiveness" of the ACS and about privacy, "difficult to assuage in the face of modern technology and general mistrust of 'the government'."

I believe that the Census Bureau, which has little money to publicize the ACS program at all, nevertheless needs to find a way to address these issues. I remember a conversation I had four or five years ago with a data detective. I posited the theory that the USA “PATRIOT” Act and other activities would undermine Census' capacity to gather information in the future. That understandably suspicious future is now.

The data gathered in the ACS, and before that in the long form of the Census, is vitally important to government and industry. Of course, the "short form" questions are required for reapportionment of Congress and state legistures, as well as a myriad of other uses.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Got a call the other day from an elderly gentleman complaining about the intrusive nature of the ACS survey form. I tried to give him some examples of how the data is used, but he didn't seem impressed. I then joked with him and told him not to call us if he needed data on the elderly population. He laughed. I wonder if he changed his mind.

Lisa Welch