Looking to move? The Census has an app for that
The number of Americans willing or even able to change residences dropped dramatically during the recession, but now that housing is in recovery and home equity is returning, more may be considering a move. So where should they go? There's an app for that, a new one from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Dwellr, which launched this week, mines the considerable data of the Census and marks a new step in the government agency's digital transformation to make its information more accessible to the public.
"It's an easy way to explore a huge amount of data," said Stephen Buckner, assistant director of communications for the Census.
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Eleven billion estimates, to be exact, drawn from its ongoing American Community Survey. The app is designed to help consumers find just the right new region, city, even cul-de-sac, depending on their preferences.
Whether it's a graduating college student looking to work in a particular field, or a retiree looking for areas with older (or younger) populations, the app offers suggestions. Of course it's the Census, so it will ask a lot of questions first, 11 to start.
From your sex to your relationship status, to the average age of your friends to your climate and commuting preferences. I tried it, and it came up with 25 possible places for me to live. I could then click on each place to find ever more information.
"You can slice statistics anyway you want and use them to make any decision, you just have to be able to get to them," said Buckner.
So yes, if you're single, it will tell you the best places to find a potential mate.
It is all part of a bigger push by the Census to make its incredible wealth of data far more accessible to the general public. In July 2012 it launched an application that allows Web and app developers to customize Census data for their own purposes.
Real estate website Zillow is already incorporating that app into its website. Then the Census launched, "America's Economy," now one of the most successful government apps, with 113,000 downloads to date. It provides constantly updated statistics on the U.S. economy, including a schedule of upcoming data announcements.
Dwellr is designed not only to inform the more than 10 percent of Americans who will move each year, but to do it in an engaging and even fun way. Students can use it to learn about certain regions of the country, and it works for travel too.
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I told it I was a young, single actress, looking to live in a midsize city in the Northeast. Allentown, Pa.? Hmmm.