The US Census website is featuring a ”Take 10″ map that allows you to easily see national census participation rates, and also zoom in to view community level rates. I’ve had a lot of fun playing around with it, and there could be interesting analysis done about not just response rates, but also which communities, states, or regions return forms earlier as opposed to later, or if big campaigns or publicity events will result in a surge of completed forms returned. It’s a great accountability measure for both the agency and for citizens and local leaders. The availability of this data is a win for open government, providing information and feedback to citizens about the success (or not) of the work of the census in an easy and fun way. Furthermore, from what I’ve seen the Census Bureau has in general done a nice job of being open and connecting citizens to the Census, and making sure people understand why the data is important and what it is used for.
TechPresident also writes about the map:
It’s all rather fun, frankly, to have hard, real-time data on which places in the U.S. are meeting their civic duty, and which places might need a little push. Where this gets actually civically useful is where mayors, governors, organizers, and advocates are able see how well, on a day-to-day basis, the people they represent are complying with the 2010 Census. “The collaborative partnership with Google allows communities the ability to track how their area is responding to the once-a-decade count,” says the Census Bureau in a release. The head count is important stuff because, as you no doubt now, this census data will be used to determine everything from local hospital funding to the size of a state’s congressional delegation.
Have you returned your census form yet? How is your community’s participation rate?