Let’s face it, we all need statistics from time to time, whether it’s for a report, a presentation, a proposal, or to settle an argument with the know-it-all in the next office. Stats can drive business goals and provide insights that might be overlooked easily. Unfortunately, statistics users face two problems: finding them and using them.
Unless you’re an expert which you probably aren’t, finding the right statistics can be very time-consuming, even with all the fancy search tools we have today. It can become frustrating and a serious waste of time. The general search engines (Google, Ask.com, Yahoo!, MSN Search, etc.) are inefficient with this sort of research. They will often pull up the statistic from somewhere, but it will have no context. For example, I may search for “average annual income” for a region and find it, but what I really need is the average annual income for a period of time for several locations to conduct an analysis and comparison. This is something the search engines usually won’t do. In a sense, they’ll show you the tree when you really need to view the entire forest. Specialized search engines (including FedStats, FirstGov.gov, and search interfaces at agency sites such as the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics) are often more precise and will get you closer to the data in context, but you still face a lot of back-and-forth inspection of complex data sets.
And finding the right statistics is only half the battle. You typically then need to analyze, organize, compare, and present the data. You need to make tables and charts that often include multiple variables. This requires strong skills with PowerPoint, Excel, and tables and charts in Word, etc., which many of us (including me) do not have. If you think it took a long time to find the data, think how much time you can spend trying to make a multivariable, color-themed chart or a PowerPoint presentation where things fly in and out as in a science fiction movie.
Easy-to-Use Analytical Tools
Fortunately, DataPlace comes to our rescue with a solution to both statistics problems. While not easy to explain, DataPlace is a statistics aggregation that gathers hundreds of commonly sought demographic, economic, business, and housing statistical series from a variety of federal data-gathering organizations. It provides several powerful but easy-to-use analytical tools for comparing and ranking data according to your specifications. Finally, it lets users save customized maps and tables for importation into their documents and presentations.
DataPlace is the product of KnowledgePlex, a portal for the affordable housing and neighborhood development community. KnowledgePlex, which is sponsored by Fannie Mae Foundation, Inc., was developed by a coalition of 23 public and private organizations. KnowledgePlex provides news, bulletin boards, and data collections for policy-makers and practitioners in affordable housing and community development.
DataPlace was developed as a research and analysis utility for KnowledgePlex members. Understandably, its specialty is housing and related income and financial data. However, KnowledgePlex members also need a range of general data on population, income, employment, etc. So DataPlace’s wide-ranging data collection makes it appealing for anyone who needs the key data to understand the U.S. population and economy