In 2004, Socioeconomics Web Resource Page application was implemented. (“Phase Ib- Needs Satisfied With Existing Published Data Sources”) It is organized around the concept of priority socioeconomic information needs that are organized into the following general categories: crime, demographics, employment locations, housing, K-12 school data, location of services, and transportation issues. Data sources that meet the following general specifications are identified: sub-city resolution, annual updates, and 10-year or longer times series. In 2009 significant additions were made driven by a University of Minnesota effort, funded by MnDOT, to identify data sources that could be useful for measuring the impact of transit improvements. Subsequently, a revised Regional Policy Statement was adopted by the MetroGIS Policy Board on January 27, 2010.
To learn more about the MetroGIS process, please see the About Information Needs page and the pages for each endorsed regional dataset.
The information need Socioeconomic
Characteristics was identified as one of thirteen original
priority business information needs of
the MetroGIS community. Click
here to view the Business Object Framing Model Fragment for this
information need. Click here for further
information about MetroGIS's Business Information Needs initiative.
Work on a regional solution to this priority information need began in
April 2002. The effort was divided into three phases:
Phase Ia - Improve the usability of specified 2000 data produced by the
Phase Ib - Identify priority socioeconomic information needs
that can be satisfactorily addressed with existing, published data
Phase II - Investigate solutions to socioeconomic information needs
that would measure the impact of transit improvements. This phase opens the door to commercial data sources.
Phase Ia- Improve Usability of Specified Census Data: The Phase
Ia workgroup completed its tasks in
summer 2002. Its purpose was to improve access and usability (user
friendliness) of data provided by the
Census and reduce duplication of effort among organizations that use census
information in similar ways. These objectives were accomplished by the MetroGIS
workgroup working with the State Demographic Center and the University of
Minnesota Libraries to develop
tutorials to help the user analyze and map Census data. Some of the most
popular data for the seven-county Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Area were
extracted by the Metropolitan Council and are presented in several
profiles by municipalities and census tracts. These
profiles can be directly linked to
County, City and Township Boundaries - 2000 data or to
Census Geography 2000 data that have been aligned with
locally-produced street centerline data (MetroGIS-endorsed regional TLG
regional street centerline dataset), available on MetroGIS's DataFinder
website. Alignment with the regional street centerline dataset facilitates
interoperability with other MetroGIS-endorsed regional datasets and direct use
with GIS technology.
Phase Ib - Needs Satisfied With Existing Published Data Sources:
From April to November 2003, another workgroup,
whose members were representative of the broad community, built upon the Phase
Ia project. The goal of this effort was to define a way to decide which of the
priority socioeconomic information needs of the MetroGIS community could be
satisfactorily addressed with existing data sources, and create a means to help
the user easily locate these sources. The workgroup documented its findings and
recommendations in its
Report, which was accepted by the MetroGIS Coordinating Committee on
December 17, 2003. This report summarizes the components of its proposed
regional solution for the Socioeconomic Characteristics of Areas priority
information need that can be met with existing published data, a detailed
evaluation of shortcomings with existing data related to priority information
needs of the MetroGIS community, and provides direction to the Phase II
workgroup to address some of these shortcomings.
The workgroup's members devised a rating method to identify the highest priority
socioeconomic information needs as a group. The basis of their work was the
detailed listing of socioeconomic information needs identified by the broad
MetroGIS community in 1996. Individual group members, with appropriate
expertise, then identified existing sources of published data to the extent
they where known and existed for each of the priority information needs. From
June 2003 to November 2003, the group conducted a suitability evaluation of
each of the identified existing sources of data relative to three criteria -
mapping resolution, time frequency and times series. A color-coded
matrix was devised to readily illustrate the results
of this analysis. The matrix illustrates the group median, as well as
individual member suitability scores, and is included as an appendix to the
Phase I Report.
The group then created and tested a web-based
Page to help data users search, by data source or data theme, for these
"best available" existing data collected and available from many different
organizations, which satisfactorily address priority socioeconomic information
needs of the MetroGIS community. On January 28, 2004, the MetroGIS Policy Board
authorized deployment of this Resources Page as a component of the regional
solution to the socioeconomic information need. On October 27, 2004, the Policy
Board adopted a regional policy statement that
lists the custodian responsibilities necessary to maintain the currency of this
Resources Page and acknowledged the University of Minnesota Population Center's
acceptance of the regional custodian role.
The Resources Page categorizes identified data sources into the
following general areas: crime, demographics, employment locations, housing,
K-12 school data, location of services, and transportation issues. The cited
"best available" sources of existing data each meet the following desired
general characteristics: sub-city resolution, annual updates, and 10-year or
longer times series. A metadata record, posted on MetroGIS DataFinder, points
the user to this Resources Page. A number of keywords are embedded into this
metadata record to improve the successfulness of user searches. The Resources
Page also encourages the user to pass along suggestions for how to improve this
The Phase Ib workgroup also agreed to monitor progress for funding of
the American Community
Survey and related Local Employment Dynamics (LED) programs proposed by the
U.S. Census Bureau, assess user satisfaction over the next 6-9 months with the
web-based Resources Page, and report back to the Coordinating Committee with
any additional recommendations in mid- to late 2005.
Phase II - Data Needs Tied to Transit Impact Studies
The TIRP project was intended to find data that would helpful to researchers looking at various aspects of transit improvements, starting with the Hiawatha Light Rail Transit line. Researches at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs had documented those data needs in a 2006 report Inventory of Data and Research on the Economic and Community Impacts of the Hiawatha LRT. Most of the data needs were already available in Datafinder’s Socioeconomic Research page. A search was conducted for missing sources. Another two data categories and 6 data sources were located and added. At the same time, significant updates were made to 5 of the existing updates; for example adding building permit data to the Metropolitan Council data page and Commercial real estate was added to the Realtors page.
This phase was originally intended to focus on datasets not freely available; i.e., commercial datasets. Instead it was driven by the Transit Impact Research Program (TIRP) at the University of Minnesota. Results were similar, but also included other free data available in 2009. The effort was led by Will Craig, chair of the Phase I work group led this effort.
Socioeconomic data that address priority information needs of the
MetroGIS community are collected and distributed by many different
organizations. Go to
for a resource that allows the user to search by data theme or data source for
existing sources of data that meet or exceed desired characteristics of
socioeconomic data specified by the MetroGIS community.
This resource is organized around the concept of priority socioeconomic
information needs that are organized into the following general categories:
building permits, crime, demographics, employment locations, housing, K-12 school data, location
of services, taxes, and transportation issues. Data sources that meet the following
desired specifications were sought: sub-city resolution, annual updates, and
10-year or longer times series.
Over thirty different existing data sources are identified that meet or
exceed minimum desired specifications for many identified common socioeconomic
information needs, although documentation levels vary, as do access levels. At
the best level, for example, the U.S. Census Population and Housing data are
fully documented and files can be downloaded from the Internet. In some cases,
data can be viewed online, but machine-readable data must be ordered from the
supplier, sometimes for a small fee.
A central part of MetroGIS's work is to identify common information needs of GIS users in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Metropolitan Area and facilitate the policy and data specifications needed to address each of these common information needs.
An investigation to understand these common needs was conducted by MetroGIS from September 1996 to March 1997. The result of this study was the identification of thirteen priority common information needs of the MetroGIS community. Since that time, a priority function of MetroGIS has been to facilitate the development and/or assembly of regional datasets needed to address each of these common information needs.
Each information need is addressed through a replicable process. In general, the process begins by assembling a team of content experts and through a facilitated group process (Peer Review Forum), the team begins with the business object framing model fragment to identify dataset(s) required to meet the information need. In some cases, this process takes place in a forum of content experts and in other cases it is not such a formalized process because the dataset(s) that meet the information need are intuitively recognized.
Once the dataset(s) required to meet an information need is identified, a working group of content experts is created to:
Refine the desired specifications identified at the Peer Review Forum,
Identify desired data standards and guidelines,
Identify desired roles and responsibilities for the custodian organization(s) - organizations responsible for data creation, maintenance, documentation, and distribution; and,
Identify candidate custodial organizations that have a business need and appropriate expertise to carry out the desired roles and responsibilities.
The process is complete when the Policy Board has adopted, as policy for the MetroGIS community, parameters defined through the stated tasks. The parameters are posted on a Web page for each “MetroGIS endorsed regional dataset”. Once an endorsed dataset is operational, MetroGIS monitors user satisfaction to continually enhance it.