Census Data Center Is Valuable Resource

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When people think of the census, a treasure trove of data on everything from company research and development expenditures to health data on illnesses probably doesn’t come to mind — but maybe it should.  

The Atlanta Census Research Data Center (ACRDC) is just one of 13 data centers scattered across the country that is home to data that would be of interest to researchers from most units at Georgia Tech.

“My research depends heavily upon access to data in my areas of interest — innovation, technology transfer and high-tech entrepreneurship,” said Jerry Thursby, professor of strategic management and Ernest Scheller Jr. Chair in the College of Management. “The data available through the data center is massive and very detailed.”

Access to the information is free to researchers with approved projects, thanks to the Institute’s membership in a consortium that includes other area universities, as well as the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Without the consortium membership, fees to access the data can be as high as $20,000, said Julie Hotchkiss, executive director of the ACRDC.

“The data you find in the ACRDC is not available anywhere else — you have to physically go to one of the data centers to have access,” Hotchkiss said. “For example, the data allows for following a worker in some states throughout his or her career and for linking across census data sets and government agency data sets.”

Thursby hopes to use the research and development survey data available at the ACRDC to examine the impact of recessions on firm research and development.

Gaining access to the center does require some patience, so Hotchkiss would not recommend the ACRDC to someone who isn’t prepared to wait several months for approval. And, while the Census does not restrict research content, there are procedures in place to control the format in which research results become public.

Researchers are required to submit a proposal that demonstrates that the research project has a need for restricted data and will benefit the census program.

“To simplify this process, a census employee, Melissa Banzhaf, is on site and she will work closely with researchers to help them develop a proposal that meets all necessary requirements,” Hotchkiss added.

It can take several months to receive approval, depending on which data are required for the project, and the researcher must undergo a background check.

The ACRDC is located in the Federal Reserve Bank of America at the corner of 10th and Peachtree Streets. For more information, contact Banzhaf at 404-498-7538.



  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:Amelia Pavlik
  • Created:10/31/2011
  • Modified By:Fletcher Moore
  • Modified:10/07/2016