March 8, 2021

Librarians & Developers: U.S. Census Formally Launches Public API and App Gallery

In early June we mentioned that the U.S. Census was planning to launch a public API (Application Programming Interface) for developers.

Today, a formal announcement was made and the API is now ready for all to use.

From the Announcement:

The U.S. Census Bureau today released a new online service that makes key demographic, socio-economic and housing statistics more accessible than ever before. The Census Bureau’s first-ever public Application Programming Interface (API) allows developers to design Web and mobile apps to explore or learn more about America’s changing population and economy.

The new API lets developers customize Census Bureau statistics into Web or mobile apps that provide users quick and easy access from two popular sets of statistics:

  • 2010 Census (Summary File 1), which includes detailed statistics on population, age, sex, race, Hispanic origin, household relationship and owner/renter status, for a variety of geographic areas down to the level of census tracts and blocks.
  • 2006-2010 American Community Survey (five-year estimates), which includes detailed statistics on a rich assortment of topics (education, income, employment, commuting, occupation, housing characteristics and more) down to the level of census tracts and block groups.

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For example, developers could use the statistics available through this API to create apps that:

  • Show commuting patterns for every city in America.
  • Display the latest numbers on owners and renters in a neighborhood someone may want to live in.
  • Provide a local government a range of socioeconomic statistics on its population.

The Census Bureau has also launched a website for developers to provide feedback and ideas on the API. The website includes an “app gallery” where the public can view and download Web apps that have already been created:

  • Age Finder — Users have the flexibility to get a count of the population for a single year of age or for a customized age range by sex, race and Hispanic origin for states, counties and places.
  • Poverty Status in the Past 12 Months by Sex by Age — Users can get the poverty rate for counties in New York by sex and multiple age groups in an app developed by the Program on Applied Demographics at Cornell University.

Direct to API Documentation and API Developers Forum

Read the Complete Announcement

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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