ArcGIS Living Atlas

Industry-specific American Community Survey (ACS) layers now in ArcGIS Living Atlas

Do you want basic information on population and housing in your community? Do you work in childhood development, youth outreach, senior advocacy, or emergency preparedness and response? ArcGIS Living Atlas has ready-to-use feature layers designed specifically for you!

Each of these layers are sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS enables local officials, businesses, and researchers to understand what’s taking place in their communities, and helps community programs allocate resources. This data determines how $675 billion dollars in federal and state spending are spent each year, so access to the latest available data is critical. ACS data is used by everyone from regional planners and program administrators, to entrepreneurs and big companies looking for their next location to set up shop, something that can lead to more local jobs.

ACS data in ArcGIS Living Atlas

Last December, we updated 78 Living Atlas layers containing ACS data within 48 hours of Census releasing the 2014-2018 values. These layers are all grouped by topic, such as health insurance, internet access, and living arrangements. Recently, we released some new layers grouped by industry or user persona rather than by topic, that include the most essential attributes for specific use-cases. Our four highlights layers include:

Now you can answer questions such as

all from one layer – Context for Child Well-Being.

Similarly, you can answer questions such as

all from one layer – Context for Senior Well-Being. We’ve assembled key attributes that span across all topics into layers that are designed with you in mind. Each of these new layers has dozens of attributes that are of interest to a specific industry. All ACS layers in Living Atlas can be found in this ArcGIS Online Content Group.

Benefits of these new industry-specific layers

These layers have the same benefits as our existing ACS layers in Living Atlas

Just like our other ACS layers in Living Atlas, these layers have some value-added benefits to help you save time and make better maps:

These layers will update automatically within days of the Census Bureau’s release

You read that right. Any maps you make with these layers will be refreshed with new data values very soon after the new data is available. This means you do not have to build new web maps each year, because your maps will always display the latest data. We do recommend you check your maps after the data is refreshed to make sure that your symbology choices still make sense given the new values.

Additional benefits of these layers

With all the key attributes now grouped together, workflows that used to be cumbersome are now simplified.

Relationship-style maps is now easier

With our new layers, it’s much easier to do a relationship map to visualize two attributes, such as the percent of children in the care of grandparents and the percent of children with no Broadband internet access. Because these two attributes are sourced from two different topic areas within the American Community Survey, they are attributes on two different layers (children with grandparent householder and internet access by age and race). Before, you would need to join the two layers together before you could produce the map below.  Now, these two attributes, along with many others, are available on the same layer: Context for Child Well-Being. I was able to make the map below without having to do any joins.

Targeting specific populations with filtering is now easier

Say you want to identify tracts that have high numbers of households with no heating in their homes and no vehicle available. With the new Context for Emergency Response layer, there’s no need to join two layers together. You can apply whatever filters you desire to the same layer, such as this example, which quickly gets you down to only 511 tracts in the nation.


How will you use these layers?

We are excited to see how you will use these layers to your advantage! Get inspired by browsing through some example maps and apps that use ACS Living Atlas layers. Try it yourself and make a map of your community in just a few easy steps.

Questions about these layers? See our FAQ site or post in Esri Community’s ArcGIS Living Atlas space.

Thank you to all the American Community Survey respondents who make all this data possible which is so important for America’s communities.

About the author

(she/her/hers) Diana loves working with data. She has over 15 years experience as a practitioner of demography, sociology, economics, policy analysis, and GIS. Diana holds a BA in quantitative economics and an MA in applied demography. She is a senior GIS engineer on ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World's Policy Maps team. Diana enjoys strong coffee and clean datasets, usually simultaneously.

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