unit age, tenure, heating fuel, type, value, and rent; income; occupation; persons in household; phone availability; race and ethnicity; commute to work; and vehicles per household. Products—such as maps showing the concentration of a specific racial or ethnic group by specific areas (e.g., county, census tract, or zip code) or maps showing moderate-, high-, or low-income areas—can be produced using census data. Data also can be used to create consumer profiles, which can help in targeting advertising to current and potential customers; finding new customers; and analyzing locations, selecting sites, and competing against other businesses in a market area. Both the maps and consumer profiles (which may also be linked to a map) are used by businesses to target their markets more effectively. As the use of geographic information systems has grown, the demand for small-area geographic data has also grown. And, in turn, the new-found congruence of accessible geographically referenced small-area data is promoting the use of small-area census data for business purposes even further.

For example, a retail corporation with plans to expand could analyze potential markets before selecting sites. A specific case study (Kintner et al., 1994) involved examining and assessing various markets for a corporation's planned expansion. Several potential markets were selected by the corporation for the expansion, and the corporation wanted to determine which of the potential markets would be the most successful. Although the company's staff would make the final decision about the exact location of the sites, consultants were hired to analyze the potential revenue for each market. First, the consultants developed a model for analyzing the potential markets. The model took into account a number of variables—such as population, number of firms employing 100 or more workers, number of vehicles entering the county, and size of the transient population—that could help predict the viability of a site in areas selected for analysis. Some data were from business sources, but census data provided an essential component for analysis. Information on existing markets was used in the model to help determine its accuracy. Then, the predicted revenues for each of the existing locations generated by the model were compared with the actual revenues of those markets, enabling the corporation to assess and identify the strengths and weaknesses of the model. Next, data were collected for the potential new markets. By adding the new data to the model, revenue estimates were created for the potential markets, and the markets were ranked based on their predicted revenue. Markets that were the most promising were selected for additional analyses and reviewed by the corporation's staff, who then were able to select the best markets for the corporation's expansion.

It is clear to the panel that businesses use small-area data creatively and effectively for a number of applications, and that small-area census data are important to those applications. However, it is difficult to foresee the effects of a loss of small-area census data. There could be a negative impact on efficiency and competitiveness—impacts that would be difficult to measure.

This appendix describes the business uses of census data for a variety of

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement