The U.S. Census Bureau recently launched an interactive map that makes it easy to track participation in the decennial count of households. The map application, which relies on the Google Maps API, visualizes the participation rates by color — orange for higher rates, and blue for lower rates.
The map allows users to see rates for specific geography types. Enter a zip code, or the name of a city. Users can get detailed results by clicking "County View" for county rates, "Place View" for city and town rates and "Local View" for individual tract rates. (The bureau updates data each weekday, so the rates are far from final).
The website also offers raw data so users can develop their own applications.
The Census bureau introduced a new measure of counting mail "participation" rate this year. The rate does not count the forms returned to the bureau offices by the U.S. Postal Service as "undeliverable," the Web site explains. The participation rate is higher than the mail response rate the bureau used in 2000.
The new map aims to encourage participation in the census. For every percentage point increase in the national participation rate, taxpayers will save about $85 million federal funds that would otherwise be used to send census takers to the households to collect forms, the bureau says.