University of Colorado at Boulder / University of Tennessee

David Folch (University of Colorado at Boulder and Florida State)
Seth Spielman, Co-Principal Investigator (University of Colorado at Boulder)
​Nicholas Nagle, Co-Principal Investigator (University of Tennessee)

The University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Tennessee are responsible for the Spatial Sciences Census Research Node (SSCRN). The SSCRN fosters a connection between the spatial and survey sciences. This bridge will yield both immediate and long-term benefits for the estimation, dissemination, and usability of the small area statistics produced by the Census Bureau. The imprecision in these small area estimates, e.g. census tract and block group estimates from the American Community Survey (ACS), can result in misleading descriptions of the character of the population within small geographic zones such as neighborhoods. Historically, very little attention has been paid to the geographic distribution of populations within these small areas. The basic research of SSCRN will increase knowledge about the organization of the American population within small geographic areas for the purpose of improving small area estimates. In addition to improving small area population estimates, an improved understanding of the geographic micro-structure of the American population is of broad scientific interest and may expand knowledge about socio-spatial processes like segregation and neighborhood effects.

The SSCRN will also study the geovisualization of uncertainty in small area data and the effect of various modes of visualization on decision making. SSCRN will develop and disseminate training materials, software, and research for a broad community of Census data users and producers. SSCRN will develop software tools that will enhance the usability of ACS small area estimates by allowing users to intelligently combine tracts to reduce uncertainty in variables of interest. SSCRN will educate and train a large group of students, post docs, and scientists through meetings, structured mentoring, and workshops. The impact of these activities will be multiplied through design and dissemination of a broadly accessible model curriculum and training workshops.