Quick Tour of the Missouri Census Data Center Web Site

NOTE: While this page still contains useful information, we have created a pair of powerpoint tutorials that offer more extensive and up-to-date guided tours of the web site. So, may we suggest:

Things to See and Do on the MCDC Web Site and its companion module, More Things to See and Do... .


Welcome to the Missouri Census Data Center web site. This quick tour is intended to help new visitors to the site identify and access some of the more important applications and resources to be found here. We originally developed this page for use in a live presentation at a conference where we had a time constraint of about 40 minutes. While it may be possible to complete this tour in such a short time frame, we would not recommend it. We would hope that users would want to go beyond the initial basic pointers provided here and would follow links from the web pages referenced to see the depth of these and related applications. For example, the initial tour stop, SF3 Profiles, guides you to the path to follow to display a profile for a county of your choosing and mentions something about all the hyperlinks present on the profile page. Users may find it very helpful to spend time following many or most of these hyperlinks in order to get a complete understanding of what the application can do.

About half of the tour is concerned with a single application - Data Archive via Uexplore/Dexter. This is potentially (it varies by user) the most important resource on the web site. It is geared to a sophisticated and serious data user (one who accesses, analyzes and manipulates machine-readable data on a regular basis). It does, however, allow a separation between the person who extracts the data and the person who accesses the results. (We frequently do small queries for users and e-mail them the results as a simple URL that can be used to access the Dexter output files as if they had created them themselves.) It allows you to access a large number of (sometimes very large) datasets, and lets you specify just what subset of the data you would like to keep and in what format(s). As you might expect, this is also by far the most demanding of the applications on the tour. We do workshops that provide basic training for using Uexplore/Dexter that typically require at least 4 hours with hands-on practice time. Learning all there is to know about any one of the major filetypes that constitute the MCDC data archive could easily require several hours of your attention. We put this application last on the tour with the understanding that a substantial number of you will want to stop at that leg of the tour.

Note that all hyperlinks on the main portion of this page will be opened in a new browser window. The intention is that you will want to keep the window with the tour guide (this one) open at all times as you follow the links. Whenver you finish exploring a topic you can simply close that browser window and you will be back viewing this window/page. Note also that this page is only of use when viewed online and when you follow the instructions/links to see the pages. There is no point in printing off this page, since all the good stuff is to be found not here, but rather there -- on the pages we point you to. There are no screen captures anywhere in this document. If you expect to use this as part of a live presentation and your internet connection goes down during that presentation then you will be in some trouble.

Begin the tour by accessing the MCDC home page at http://mcdc.missouri.edu.

SF3 Profiles: Follow the link from the Quick Links navigation box on the right.

Drill down through the menus to find your home county. If you live in Missouri, Illinois or Kansas choose the menu for your state, and then choose Counties off that menu; otherwise choose United States, then Counties and then your state. At this point you should be looking at a "matrix menu" page with the name of each county in your state. Clicking on the name of your county will invoke a dynamic application on the MCDC server; it creates the demographic profile page and returns it to your browser for display.

Note the variety of demographic information displayed on the page. Over 200 key items, not counting the percentages. Note also the hyperlinks to other pages and applications, including Usage Notes (at the top), links to display complete SF3 tables (in the rightmost col, with header "SF3 Table"), and a whole row of hyperlinks along the bottom of the report.

These sf3-based profiles for 2000 are just one of a series of profile applications available on the MCDC site. To see an overview of what's available together with a table of links to the main menus for each profile type follow the link to Profile Products in the middle of the navy blue navigation box that appears along the left side of most MCDC pages.

CAPS: Can be accessed from the Quick Links navigation box by clicking on Circular Area Profiles.

This application lets you specify any location in the United States and one or more radius value(s). The application generates demographic profile reports (the same kind you just saw under "SF3 Profiles") summarizing an approximation of the circular area(s). The hardest part of using the application is determining the lat-long coordinates of the location. The Usage Notes page, which new users are supposed to read carefully (but rarely do) contains tips and links to web sites where such coordinates can be easily looked up. Right click on the Usage Notes link located just above the text box where you are to enter a value for Latitude. Choose "Open link in new window". When the page comes up (in a new browser window) scroll down to the "Specifying the Coordinates" section and click on the Melissa address lookup link. Enter your home address in the box (it must be a city style address; no rural routes or PO Box addresses). If you enter the ZIP you don't have to enter the city and state. Within seconds, you should see a matrix with a variety of useful data about your address, including values for the Latitude and Longitude in decimal degrees. Select the value for latitude (just the number) and hit ctrl-c to copy the value to the clipboard. Go back to your previous browser window with CAPS running and paste the value into the box for Latitude using ctrl-v. Repeat this process for the longitude value. You can then close the window with the geocoding results. Back on the CAPS page you can enter a name for your site such as "Home Sweet Home". In the "Enter up to 5 radius values.." box enter "5 10" (without the quotes) to indicate you want to look see data for five and ten-mile radius circles (approximated). Skip the state selection box and the geographic units to be selected box - you rarely need to change these values. The next box lets you select the specific tables you want. Hold down the ctrl key and select the Age and the Race and Hispanic tables (in addition to the Population Basics table already selected). Click on the Generate Report button. It should take less than 5 seconds for your report to be generated and displayed in your browser.

MABLE/Geocorr: Accessible from the link to MABLE/Geocorr 2K in the Quick Links navigation box.

This application is hard to explain but relatively easy to use for most applications. It lets you look at geographic relationships anywhere in the U.S. for a wide array of geographic types. Most of the geographic layers are derived from the Census Bureau's TIGER GIS. For Missouri only, we have added a number of additional layers (such as updated legislative districts and various county-based region codes). A quick example of how it works. Choose a state off the select menu; Missouri is chosen by default, choose Delaware if you just want to see an example and you want it to run a little faster. We want to generate a report that will show how each ZIP code in the state relates to counties, i.e. what county or counties does each ZIP fall within. From the Source geocode select list (the one on the left) select (click on) "5-digit ZCTA .." (a ZCTA is not exactly a ZIP code but it's very close and most users will not care about the subtle differences). Choose County (2000) from the Target geocode select list (on the right). Leave all the remaining Input Options and all the Output Options and beyond unchanged from their defaults and click on the Run Request button at the end of the Output Options section.

Wait for the program to complete running, at which point it will display the line saying Output Files and then displays a link to your output file(s). By default, it will generate output as both a comma-delimited file and a listing (which you can choose to be in html or pdf format if you need something better looking than the default plain-text report format.) Click on the Listing output link and view the report. On each line of the report you will see information regarding a ZIP code within a County. It will display the geographic codes and names (by default; there are options to control this), source codes first, then target codes. It will then display the value of the chosen Weight Variable (defaults to the 2000 population), and then a column containing an "allocation factor". This value is often 1.0000 which means that the source geocode is contained entirely within the target code area. When a source area (in this example, a ZIP code) is in more that 1 county then there will be multiple reports lines for that ZIP code and the allocation factors for each line will indicate the portion of that ZIP code's population that resides in that county. Note that in the report format, when the values of the source geocode/source geocode name are repeated, they are only displayed on the first line. For example, if I run the ZIP to county request for Delaware I get this output:

19938       CLAYTON           10001     Kent DE              5121        0.880
                              10003     New Castle DE         698        0.120
The ZIP (ZCTA) code here is 19938, p.o. name Clayton, displayed on the first line, but not the second. This ZIP is 88% in Kent county and 12% in New Castle county. 698 of the people who lived in the ZIP code in 2000 also lived in New Castle county. (These numbers are approximations, but good approximations).

There are lots of things you can do with this application. See the Examples page for some ideas. As an excercise, see if you can use the application to display a report for your state showing each of the counties and indicating what portion of the population of each county lives in an area classified as urban or rural.

MCDC Data Archive via Uexplore/Dexter: Accessible via link in the navy blue navigation box on the left side of most MCDC pages.