Census Business Builder: Exploring the Advanced Features


Coordinator: Welcome and thank you for standing
by. At this time, all participants are on listen-only mode. During the question-and-answer
session if you would like to ask a question, please press star then 1. Please be advised
that today’s conference is being recorded. If you have any objections, you may disconnect
at this time. Now I would like to turn the meeting over to Miss Deborah Rivera. You may
begin. Deborah Rivera: Thank you very much, Brittany.
Good afternoon everyone. As Brittany stated, I am Deb Rivera. I am your host for today
and I would like to welcome all of you who joined our Census Academy webinar. If you
hear anything in the background, please go ahead and ignore that. It should stop in a
few minutes anyway. So we have an amazing session for you today.
We are going to explore the advanced features of the Census Business Builder, and this is
a session that is especially for all of the power users out there. So a few housekeeping items before we start.
As the operator has stated, we are recording this webinar from beginning to end and we
will be posting the recording to our Census Academy site as a free learning resource.
We will hold off for questions until the end of the presentation, and when that time comes
we ask that you please keep your questions to one question and one follow up, at which
point if you have any other questions remaining you’re welcome to queue up again. I also want to mention that the presentation
today is an advanced user session. It is, essentially, meant for anyone who is acquainted
with the Census Business Builder tool. Now if anyone is in need of a refresher or if
there are any new users of the tool joining us today, we absolutely welcome you to stay
but we also encourage you to visit our Census Academy site where you can find an introductory
course of the basic features of this tool. I would now like to introduce our presenter,
the wonderful Andy Hait. Mr. Hait is an economist and services as the data product and data
user liaison in the Government and Trade Management Division at the US Census Bureau. Thank you,
Andy. Andy Hait: Thank you so much, Deb. So again,
as Deb mentioned, today’s webinar is going to be to review a few the advanced features
of Census Business Builder. The features that were going to look at today are how to upload
your own data using the My Variables feature in the Census Business Builder, how to add
a reference layer, how to use and change the map classing method that is used in Census
Business Builder, and finally how to build a complex rate region in Regional Analyst
edition. The first three features were going to be
talking about are applicable to both the small business and the regional analyst edition
of CBB. The last feature is specific to the regional analyst edition. So with that I’m
going to quickly go ahead and minimize our presentation and go out to the Census Bureau’s
website and show you how to do these particular features. So the first feature were going to explore
today is how to upload your own data using Census Business Builder. One of the comments
we had received from users over the years was that it would be nice to be able to upload
statistics that they have about their particular business or for their organization and be
able to match that data up with our data. So last year in the June release, we added
this feature to Census Business Builder. Again, the feature is available in both the small
business edition but I’m going to go ahead and demonstrate it in the small business edition.
So in my example here today were going to pretend that we are restaurant owner in the
city of Philadelphia and we have some data that we want to be able to compare to with
statistics for the general market to see how the customers of my restaurant compare to
all of the customers in a particular area. So I’m going to go ahead first and choose
food services and choose restaurants and then I’m going to go ahead and I’m going to look
for the data specifically for the city of Philadelphia. So I’m going to type in P H
I L A. You need to type in at least four characters and pretty quickly you get a list of all of
the Philas that are – that we have data for and Philadelphia city is the one were interested
in. So once I have now chosen my type of business
and my geography now we go to map and the create report features button turn on. So
I’m going to go ahead and go the map and that will now zoom me in to the city of Philadelphia,
specifically highlighted, and immediately we can see there’s about 1.5, almost 1.6 million
people that live in the city of Philadelphia. Census Business Builder provides data not
only at the city level but also at the state, county, zip code and even census tract level.
So I’m going to zoom in a little bit and look at zip code level data for the city of Philadelphia
so that we can do this evaluation, do this comparison between the customers of our restaurant
and all of the general people that live in that area. So I’m going to pan the map out a little bit
to center us more on the city of Philadelphia. I’m – once the map finishes rendering I’m
then going to zoom in a little bit on the city, let it finish doing its thing here.
We will then zoom in on the city of Philadelphia. Now we’ve zoomed in some more and now I’m
going to go ahead and I’m actually going to upload the data for my restaurant for the
city of Philadelphia. So the way you do the map upload is you go
the Map Variables menu and the very last tab here on the end is My Variables. So were going
to choose My Variables and the application then gives us a sample upload file so we can
see what a file should look like, what do these files that I’m going to upload should
look like, or it also provides a learn more link. Clicking on Learn More brings us to a flyer
that actually gives us detailed information about how to use this upload feature. Since
I’m showing you all how to do this, were not going to go to the flyer. So the first thing
we’re going to do is, we’re going to go over and we are going to browse to find the actual
data file we are interested in. So I have saved a file to our desktop. It’s
this file called Restaurant Customer Data. So I’m going to go ahead and say I want that
one and I’m going to open that file. And right away the application then gives me a list
of all of the fields, all of the data fields, the columns that are in that Excel file that
I created. So in my Excel file I have information on
the numbers of customers of my restaurant. I had information on the customer sales, the
total sales of those customers. I have some information on how much of those customer
sales were discounted, meaning customers used a coupon, let’s say, for my business and just
to kind of compare that, I have a calculated field or a sales per customer, so this tool
will allow you to upload that. And I even have a calculated field on coupon share that
is basically the percentage of these discount sales to the total customer sales. So once I say that, yes, this file does look
right I can then accept the upload and the application has now loaded those data into
Census Business Builder. Going back to the My Variables menu I can now see those variables
that I just uploaded. Now a couple of quick caveats about this.
First of all, Census Business Builder allows you to currently upload up to ten variables.
So if I had an Excel file that had more than ten variables in that data file, it would
only let me upload the first ten. So in this case that’s not a problem. Second, the geographies
that are included in the Excel file that I uploaded have to match the geographies, the
vintage and the boundaries of those geographies that are in Census Business Builder. If the data file that I had tried to upload
included some geographic areas that are not recognized by Census Business Builder, I would
have gotten an error message that would have said, Hey, one or more of your data fields
is not being recognized, or, One or more of your geographies is not being recognized.
If the entire file was bad, if all the geographies in the Excel file were bad then I would have
gotten an error message indicating that the entire file in not able to be uploaded. But in this case it did work so I’m going
to go ahead and I’m going to click on that customers variable and now I can see the customers
data overlaid into this map exactly the way I had uploaded it. So I can now click around
and I can say in zip code 19147 there were 550 customers of my particular – of my restaurant.
I can then go in and change the customers to what were the sales of those customers.
So in that particular zip code I can see that it was about $25,000 in total sales of those
customers. Once you have uploaded data into the Census
Business Builder all of the other map features still work. So I could go into the filter
now and I can say find all the cases where the number of my customers is less than a
certain number but the total population in that area is larger than a certain number.
So I could look at demographic and business data and my data simultaneously in the filter. When you upload your own data in Census Business
Builder, it is accessible only to you. No one else can actually see this data. And when
I close Census Business Builder, these data that I just uploaded disappear. They are not
persistent. So customers who are concerned about making sure that their private data
is kept private, that is fine because CBB, again, is only making a connection between
your computer and our server, not your computer and the rest of the system. No one else can
see the data you uploaded. Again, when I close Census Business Builder
that connection is severed and all of the data that you had available in the tool is
then gone. So each time you want to upload your own data you have to do it separately.
So that essentially is the data upload feature. Let’s go ahead and actually change our variable
back to total population instead of our map variable that we uploaded, and now I want
to show the second feature, the second advanced feature of Census Business Builder and that
is the reference layers tool. Census Business Builder does give you the
ability to add reference layers, and when you add in a reference layer, you can either
add one of the layers that we’ve already loaded in part of our gallery, so things like legislative
boundaries, urban area boundaries, Native American boundaries, and school district boundaries,
or I can upload my own shape file or my own web service. The little I icon here to the right of this
give you access to a flyer that describes how to actually do that. Since uploading a
shape file is pretty straightforward, anybody who knows what a shape file is would know
what uploading that is, since that’s pretty straightforward I’m not going to demonstrate
that but I do want to show you all how to add a web service since that’s not quite as
common a practice. So I’m going to cancel out of this first and
in our particular demo that I’m going to do today were going to go over and change our
geography over to San Diego, California. Now the map service, the web service that I actually
have for this application that I have for our demo today is a map service for the city
of San Diego that they prepared. So I’m going to go ahead and zoom in a little
bit on the city of San Diego and now I’m going to back over to our reference layers feature.
I’m going to click on Add a New Layer and this time I want to add a web service. When
I click on Add Web Service, it’s going to allow me to go in and actually put the URL
of the web service that I have. So I’ve go ahead – gone ahead now and I’ve copied a particular
web service URL that has – that I have access to and I can now paste that web service URL
into the tool. Now you’ll notice right away first of all
it has to be a secure HTTP web service, so your URL has to start with HTTPS. In this
particular case I am actually uploading an RTIS web service but you could upload any
other web service as long as it’s being delivered as a rest service. Once I go ahead and say I’m interested in
now applying with that map service, it goes ahead and puts a check on it and now I can
go in and I can set up the map transparency for that particular web service. So if I want
to make that layer more transparent or less transparent, I can adjust the transparency
or I can delete that reference player. Now you’ll notice that the web service is
not showing up yet on our display so I’m going to zoom in a little bit more and I’m going
to make that web service a little bit less transparent and hopefully it will actually
show up here. Let me see what’s going on here. Okay it looks like my web service is being
cranky today here. Let me go ahead and adjust this. I’m going
to delete this web service and let’s try it again. Okay. It looks like I made it angry.
So the web service must be just trying to tie into the application. But again, once
that was actually loaded – let me turn this off here – let’s try again. Let me reapply
that web service. It looks like it’s going to be cranky here. Let’s close this here and
let’s try it again. Okay. Let’s try that again. Add a new layer.
I’ll go ahead and apply this one. Okay. Well it looks like I’m – were going to be having
a problem here today. Okay. So, sorry about that. Normally you would actually be able
to see the boundaries of that actual web service displayed on the screen and you’d then be
able to see that. Now a key point about this web service, about
these reference layers is they are only present in the tool as a reference layer. They are
not actually available in the tool and are not there to interact with the data. We have
had some questions from users saying, Could you create a web service or a shape file that
actually would interact with the data that would allow us, for example, to build a region
where I could upload the shape file? Currently that’s not available but were actually
working on adding that particular feature to the application. So I’m going to go ahead
and close this since it looks like my demo here is just going to be cranky. So the third
advanced feature I want to show you all is the map classing scheme. So as many of you know, the different methods
that are available for displaying data on a map can have a big impact on how the map
actually displays. So I’m going to go ahead and zoom to my hometown or the city I went
to school in – Syracuse, New York – and were going to show how choosing the map scheme,
the classing scheme can make a difference on how the data are displayed. So in this case were starting off looking
at total population for the city of Syracuse. You can see the population is about 144,000
people that live in the city of Syracuse. If I went ahead and chose our variable – or
excuse me, changed the variable to rent or occupied housing units, were going to see
a map that still sort of mirrors that same color palette that we had seen before but
if we look over at the ranges for each of the variables for each in the legend, we can
clearly see that this blue category has this really huge range from 2800 all the way to
34,000, whereas the other ranges are much smaller and much closer variables. So in the – so in this classing scheme, using
the quantiles classing scheme, all of the variables, the values on this map were then
divided up into five equal intervals and actually then came up with those – with what those
ranges would be. So the fact that there are far fewer rental units outside of the city
of Syracuse is not apparent when you look at this map. But maybe if we chose a different
classing scheme, they might be. So by clicking on the gear icon, I can change
both the color palette, so let’s go to a more traditional green-blue color palette, so now
I’m using a more standard dark-to-light fade, but I can also go in and change the classing
method. And currently in the tool, the tool offers two options: equal interval and quantile.
Quantile is the default, but when I change this to equal interval, you’ll see how dramatically
different the map now looks. So now we are seeing a map where you can clearly
see how different the number of renter-occupied housing units are in the city of Syracuse
versus the neighboring areas outside. Three of the four extra values aren’t even possible,
aren’t even shown on the map, so basically you’re seeing this dramatically different
display of data where you have one central city that has a very large number of renter-occupied
housing units and then surrounding areas with very few. So when you’re looking at data for a very
evenly distributed population where the data are evenly distributed across the different
geographies, viewing the data broken out by quantile versus equal interval does not make
much of a difference, but when you have a variable like renter-occupied housing units,
you can clearly see that if your purpose is to show different the City of Syracuse is
versus the neighboring areas, using that equal interval method gives you a much, much different
display. So that’s the basic features I wanted to demonstrate
in small business edition of Census Business Builder. Let’s now go out and actually look
at the regional analyst edition to look at this last advanced feature, which is the ability
to build a complex region. So in this case I’m going to again go to Census Business Builder
but this time I’m going to choose the regional analyst edition. Now in the regional analyst edition the tool
displays data for all the types of businesses in a region, so that initial menu where we
chose restaurants is now gone. We’re going to pretend we are the president of a chamber
of commerce here in Maryland. So I’m going to go to Calvert County, Maryland as the counties
I’m interested in and the application is going to zoom me in to Calvert County and I can
now see what the total population is in Calvert County, Maryland. So I can see it’s about
90,000. We’re going to pretend that as the president
of the chamber of commerce of southern Maryland, the southern Maryland chamber of commerce,
I want to build a profile of the service area that my chamber covers. So my service area
includes all of Calvert County, all of Charles County and all of St. Marys County but it
also includes a couple of areas in these neighboring communities, the areas that are up against
the edge of the three counties that I’m interested in. So to build my region, I click on Edit Region
and one by one I can now go over here and add in each of the entire counties that I
am interested in on my map. So I’ve gone ahead and added in Calvert County and Charles County
and now St. Marys County. I can now name this region, so let’s just call this Southern Maryland,
and when I’m done editing it I can now see that that three-county area is now outlined. Well in reality the boundaries of my chamber
of commerce actually include some additional geographies, some additional businesses that
are in these neighboring areas. So if I now want to build a region that includes not only
these three counties but also some additional zip codes, I can go ahead and change my level
of geography to zip code so now I’m looking at a zip code-level map, and now I can go
ahead and one at a time I can add in additional geographies and they don’t just have to be
counties. I can now add zip codes or cities or census
tracts. So the application does allow me to go in and actually add geographies of different
types. So I’m going to go ahead and were going to add in this one zip code over here. So
I’m going to, again, go back to Edit Region and this time I’m now going to click on the
zip code that I want to add to my region. When the application presents that zip code
if the boundaries of the zip code that you’ve selected do not overlap at all with the geography
that you’ve already built, it will automatically add it. But if the geography that you’re trying
to add does overlap with the area that you’ve already built, you get this error message
or you get this identifying message. And this feature is really important, the
zoom to overlap feature. This allows me to evaluate just how bad the overlap is. Perhaps
for my purposes it doesn’t really make that much of a difference. So when I’m now zoomed
in on the zip code I tried to add, I can see this little tiny piece of the zip code over
here that is marked on the X’s is the piece that actually overlaps with the county that
I’ve already selected. If I browsed around here, nothing else on
this particular geography is a problem. It’s just that one little tiny corner up over here
where the geography of the zip code actually overlaps, where if there were people or businesses
in this overlap area, we would essentially be counting them twice. Now in my particular situation I may decide,
you know, as the chamber of commerce president I’m okay with that little bit of an overlap
because I know that nobody lives there or I know that there’s no businesses that are
physically located there, so I’m going to say, yes, let’s go ahead and let’s add it
to the region. So now the application has actually added
that particular zip code and we can now see our region now includes three counties and
one zip code. However, if I was interested in adding another area to this, let’s say
I want to add this next zip code over here, 20714, I can once again click on that zip
code. Once again I get that error message, that message that’s saying this area may overlap,
do you want to check it? Do you want to make sure this is okay? And when I now zoom into
that overlap, I can actually discover that, wow, a big piece of that zip code that I cared
about overlaps. Here’s a lot of the zip code is up over here
that I selected but this entire area down here in the North Beach, Maryland area, all
of this geography actually is being double counted. So I may say, no, no, no, I don’t
want to add that geography. So the application is intelligent enough to prevent users or
to at least alert users to the fact that when they’re adding these geographies that there
may be an overlap and that they may need to take into account that overlap when they are
actually building their geography. This has been a very, very popular feature
in the Census Business Builder regional analyst edition because it is allowing chambers of
commerce and other regional planning authorities whose boundaries don’t follow entire counties
or entire cities but instead include parts of cities, parts of counties and if they want
to add those geographies, they can now do that using this tool. And if I went in and
actually said I’m done editing, it’s now going to add that geography to my area and now I
can clearly see that the entire thing is now all in there. So essentially those are the four key power
users features that I wanted to talk about. What I’d like to do now is bring up my PowerPoint
file and we can go ahead and take some questions. Operator, are there any questions? Coordinator: And if you would like to ask
a question, you may do so by pressing star then 1 and record your name clearly when prompted.
If you need to withdraw your question, you may do so by pressing star then 2. One moment
as we wait for the first question. And as a reminder if you would like to ask
a question, please press star then 1. One moment as we wait for any questions. We do have a question on the line. One moment. Andy Hait: Thank you. Coordinator: All right. And our first question
comes from Alicia. Your line is now open. Alicia: With the regional builder, does that
also go away when you close it? So if you build all your regions, do you have to rebuild
them when you come back through it? Andy Hait: No. That’s actually a really great
question. So in both the small business and the regional analyst editions of Census Business
Builder, you can actually bookmark the URL to both the map and the report that Census
Business Builder creates. So let’s say you built this really nice 13-county, two-city,
six-zip code area and you want to save that work and come back to it later, you can actually
copy the URL at the top of the application and then when you return to that URL at a
later time, it’ll bring you right back to the map exactly where you were when you last
left it. It actually saves all of the components that
you built of that region into the body of the URL. And again, that would allow you to
not only you get back to it but if you then wanted to share that URL with a friend or
a colleague, you could actually do that. Just to give you a little idea of how we are
currently using that bookmarking feature, in the last year or so we’ve been working
very closely with FEMA on providing information about areas that were impacted by natural
disasters, so fires and floods and hurricanes, etc. In the last year we have created over
1000 of those deep links to the counties and the cities that were impacted by disasters
all last year and you can actually go in and click on each of those links and actually
go in and look at what the population was in that area that was impacted by that hurricane
or what was the number of businesses that were in that particular area. So, yes, we are using that bookmarking feature
pretty extensively, again, because it makes it so easy to be able to go back in and re-look
at that information after you’ve spent the time to build that region. So, yes, great,
great question. Alicia: Thank you. Coordinator: As a reminder if you would like
to ask a question, please press star then 1 and record your name clearly when prompted.
We do have a question on the line. The name was not recorded but if you star 1 to ask
a question, caller, your line is now open. Please check your mute button. Okay. That caller is not responding. Andy Hait: Okay. Coordinator: And as a reminder if you would
like to ask a question, please press star 1. One moment as we wait for any additional
questions. At this time there are no questions on the
phone. Andy Hait: Okay. Well thank you all so much
for taking time out of your busy day to learn about some of these advanced features of Census
Business Builder. Again, the recording – the webinar is going to be recorded and will be
posted at a later date so if you want to go back and review these materials they will
be available. And again, the Census Business Builder website also does have a lot of these
kinds of training materials there as well. So thank you so much for your time. Coordinator: Thank you for your participation
in today’s conference. All parties may disconnect at this time.

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