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Blog Entries from 2013

New Census Mobile App Showcases Local Statistics for People on the Go

New Census Mobile App Showcases Local Statistics for People on the Go

America has always been a nation on the move. Whether you are looking for a career change or a new neighborhood to call home, life decisions affect each of us every day. With roughly half of Americans now owning smartphones, everyone should be able to access the wealth of statistics the Census Bureau collects to make informed decisions on the go, whether at home or on the road. What good are data if nobody but the experts can easily access them? The Census Bureau uses 21st century technology to meet its centuries-old mission, making the statistics that define our growing, changing nation more accessible to the public than ever before.

The Census Bureau’s new mobile app, dwellr, (iOS / Android) provides those on the go with immediate, personalized access to the latest demographic, socio-economic and housing statistics from the American Community Survey for neighborhoods across the nation. Using the level of importance you places on a location’s characteristics, the app generates a list of top 25 towns or cities most suitable for you. Once you have used the app, it saves your selections on your phone so you can see how they match up against each new place you visit.

With more than 30 million Americans moving last year, dwellr allows for quick and easy access to information to help make the decision, including the ages of residents, how many families have children, median income and housing costs. Dwellr allows Apple and Android smartphone users to explore a range of questions making it a powerful tool for homebuyers, members of the military being deployed domestically, real estate agents, new businesses and teachers helping students learn about their communities.

The statistics in dwellr are only the beginning of a powerful story you can tell with Census Bureau data. Imagine if an app matched your preferences with restaurant reviews, places with museums or most visited parks. With the Census Bureau’s Application Programming Interface, developers can take the same statistics found in dwellr and apply them to any app they can imagine. We are eager to see new applications of these American Community Survey statistics that help people learn more about their communities using the same information businesses use to plan investments and services. These statistics, along with the Census Bureau’s other economic information, provide timely, critical information on the health of the U.S. economy.

The app is just the latest product from the Census Bureau’s digital transformation and provides statistics to more Americans in a new and user-friendly way. It follows the successful release of our hugely popular America’s Economy mobile app, which now has more than 100,000 downloads. Coming soon, you will see an upgraded census.gov website with enhanced search and navigation features that are based on several years of customer feedback. We continue to open up more of our data to developers as part of our API, including 30 years of decennial statistics in addition to the American Community Survey statistics that power dwellr.

As we continue to align ourselves with the Digital Government Strategy, our free mobile apps are just one way we are making our statistics available anytime, anywhere, and on nearly any device.

Download dwellr from the Google Play or Apple store today and begin learning more about where you are and where you could go in the future.

Spotlight on Commerce: Helena Carapellatti, Statistician, U.S. Census Bureau

Helena Carapellatti was awarded a 2012 Public Service Recognition Award for Diversity Champion and Leadership by Census Director Bob Groves and Deputy Director & Chief Operation Officer Tom Mesenbourg, Jr.

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to an Economy Built to Last.

Guest blog post by Helena Carapellatti, Statistician, U.S. Census Bureau

I work as a statistician in the Human Resources Division at the U.S. Census Bureau and my responsibilities include reporting on Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey results for the bureau and working on policies and issues related to excepted-service field data collection employees.

I grew up on the Navajo reservation spanning parts of New Mexico and Colorado. We lived off the grid and were ranchers with livestock that needed daily attention. Summers meant camping on the outer parts of our land and sleeping under a blanket of stars.  We explored on horseback and lived a semi-nomadic lifestyle free from the world outside the traditional Navajo culture. This lifestyle meant my brothers and I learned to be responsible and self-sufficient at an early age. Being the only girl in the family meant I had to be fearless if I wanted to keep up with all my brothers.

When I graduated high school, there were no opportunities on the reservation so I enlisted in the military. The military offered me an opportunity to pursue higher education and to serve in an honorable profession. I started going to school part-time and got an Associates degree in Logistics with the Community College of the Air Force. Later I got a B.S., in Social Science with a minor in Journalism. I made some lasting friendships and after 25 years, I retired and completed my M.A. in Applied Sociology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Outside the workplace, I help my husband with our small business most weekends. When you are in business, you have to be willing to adapt so you can provide the type of service that sets you apart.  We have to network, be informed and sensitive to the economy just like our customers so it is a constant balancing act to remain competitive in an ever-changing market.

Acting Deputy Secretary Gallagher Advocates Increased U.S. Exports through Doing Business in Africa Campaign

Acting Deputy Secretary Gallagher Advocates Increased U.S. Exports through Doing Business in Africa Campaign

Today, Acting Deputy U.S. Commerce Secretary Patrick Gallagher delivered remarks at “From DC to Africa: Growing Local, Going Global,” a business forum hosted by the D.C. Office on African Affairs to raise awareness of opportunities for U.S. companies to do business in Africa. D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray also gave remarks at the forum and introduced Dr. Gallagher.

The event also marks the first anniversary of the launch of the Commerce Department’s Doing Business in Africa Campaign (DBIA) by then-Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Last year, President Obama issued the U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa and said the region is poised to be the world’s next greatest economic success story. In fact, sub-Saharan Africa is home to six of the ten fastest-growing economies in the world. U.S. exports to Africa currently top $21 billion a year, and enormous opportunities exist for more U.S. companies to export goods and services there. DBIA works to take advantage of those export and investment opportunities by encouraging more robust commercial engagement in sub-Saharan Africa.

In speaking to an audience of more than 200 local businesses, Acting Deputy Secretary Gallagher emphasized why U.S. companies should see sub-Saharan Africa as an export destination. In the first half of this year, U.S. companies have exported more than $1 billion more in goods exports to the region compared to the same period in 2012. However, U.S. exports to Africa represent only two percent of our total exports.

Dr. Gallagher also highlighted DBIA campaign successes through the work of the Commerce Department and their partner trade agencies in the last year, including holding nationwide outreach sessions with sub-Saharan Africa commercial experts, and bringing hundreds of African companies and buyers to U.S. trade shows in sectors like water, power, oil and gas, and agribusiness. In the second year of the DBIA campaign, the Department of Commerce aims to bring even more potential African partners and buyers to U.S. trade shows, collaborate on the administration’s Power Africa initiative to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa, and address trade barriers in the region.

The DBIA campaign also supports NEI 2.0, an initiative laid out in the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda,” which aims to revitalize efforts to partner with industry to help businesses become more globally fluent, increase American exports and support the creation of millions of jobs.

NOAA’s Stunning Science On a Sphere® Now in 100 Locations Worldwide

Image of the Spehere

A glowing six-foot diameter sphere, suspended from the ceiling of NOAA headquarters in Silver Spring, Md., is the 100th Science On a Sphere® installed around the world. The 3-D display system, which was unveiled November 22, illuminates awe-inspiring animations of planet Earth and is used by educators, curators and scientists alike to explore global environmental data, such as swirling hurricanes, clouds and ocean currents. 

Science On a Sphere® (SOS) is seen by 33 million people annually in 15 countries, 27 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and American Samoa. Using computers and video projectors, the system displays planetary data on an opaque carbon fiber sphere, and presenters can draw from more than 400 annotated datasets to highlight weather observations, climate models, ocean acidification plus the latest solar system imagery.  Read more

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Visits iwis Motorsystems in Munich, Germany

Secretary Pritzker poses with members of iwis Motorsystems after a tour of the facilities

On her visit to Munich today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Secretary Pritzker toured iwis Motorsystems, a family-owned company that is making investments and creating jobs in the United States. One key aspect of U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker’s “Open for Business Agenda” is the importance of attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) to the United States. A report recently released by the Department of Commerce and the Council of Economic Advisors found that foreign-owned companies employ 5.6 million people in the United States, so it is clear that FDI is a major driver to job creation and economic growth.

A “Mittelstand” (medium-sized) company, iwis is a leading supplier of automotive products used in a vast array of engines and vehicles, and has growing investments in the United States. The company has a production facility in Indianapolis, Indiana, and a subsidiary, iwis engine systems, in Troy, Michigan. Additionally, operations have recently begun at a new facility in Murray, Kentucky, to produce timing drive systems. This latest facility accounts for a $12.5 million investment and, when fully operational, will employ 75 people.

The Commerce Department’s SelectUSA program is working to attract even more of these job-creating investments. German firms like iwis are poised to make an even bigger impact in the United States – Germany sent one of the largest delegations to the SelectUSA Summit that President Obama and Secretary Pritzker hosted on Octover 31 – November 1. For 2012, FDI from Germany totaled more than $272 billion.

Secretary Pritzker Tours BMW Factory and Training Facilities in Germany

Groupf photo of Pritzker and apprentice training program students

Following the announcement of her strategic vision for the Department of Commerce last week, which includes a focus on ensuring that workers are prepared with the skills that employers need, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today toured BMW's training facilities at their headquarters in Munich, Germany with CEO Dr. Norbert Reithofer and Head of Apprentice Training Jan Eggert.  

Secretary Pritzker went to BMW to learn more about how the company implements the German Dual System of Vocational training, through which students receive a technical degree at a local educational institution while simultaneously participating in on-the-job training. BMW has a unique apprenticeship program, which is currently training 4,500 apprentices worldwide with the skills the company anticipates it will need from future employees. BMW has spent 1.2 billion euros on professional development since 2007.

While the majority of BMW apprentices are located in Germany, the company is expanding its program internationally, including at their Spartanburg, South Carolina plant. BMW employs more than 7,000 workers in South Carolina, and they have 70 apprentices at the facility who they are training for BMW careers. The apprenticeship program in Spartanburg has been in place since 2011 and works with three local technical colleges. 

Secretary Pritzker has made skills development a top priority of the Commerce Department for the very first time, and is encouraging businesses to partner with local education institutions on programs that train high-quality workers for in-demand jobs. She will work closely with her counterparts, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, on these workforce training initiatives. BMW's model is one that can help inform these efforts.

NOAA: Much Colder Air In Store for Plains, Heavy Rain, Snow and Mixed Precipitation

Map of U.S. with temperature predictions

Arctic front will bring coldest weather so far this season

The Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued its annual winter outlook today through the National Weather Service. 

A cold front moving across the Plains will bring temperatures plummeting as much as 10-25 degrees below normal across much of the central and northern Plains on Thursday, as well as areas of heavy snow across parts of the Rockies and central Plains Thursday into Friday. Mixed precipitation is forecast for parts of the southern Plains into the Southwest, with heavy rain possible across the Desert Southwest. Read more For interactive map, visit http://www.weather.gov/.

NIST Investigation of Joplin, Mo., Tornado Details Proposed Measures for Saving Lives and Property

Destruction caused by the Joplin, Missouri, tornado that struck on May 22, 2011 causing 161 fatalities and more than 1,000 injuries. The tornado was the deadliest single tornado since official U.S. recordkeeping began in 1950.

The Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released a report today on the impacts of the May 22, 2011 tornado that struck Joplin, Mo. Nationally accepted standards for building design and construction, public shelters and emergency communications can significantly reduce deaths and the steep economic costs of property damage caused by tornadoes were among the key conclusions of the two-year technical investigation.

The recommendations are featured in a draft report issued for public comment today and announced at a press briefing held at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin. The NIST study is the first to scientifically assess the impact of a tornado in four major categories: tornado characteristics, building performance, human behavior and emergency communication—and the impact of each on life-safety, the ability to protect people from injury or death. It also is the first to recommend that standards and model codes be developed and adopted for designing buildings to better resist tornadoes.

The NIST report includes a number of recommendations for future research and development of technologies and strategies to advance tornado wind measurements, strengthen emergency communications, increase warning time, derive more accurate tornado hazard maps and significantly improve public response during tornado events.

NIST welcomes comments on the draft report and recommendations—available online at http://www.nist.gov/manuscript-publication-search.cfm?pub_id=914787 — which must be received by 5 p.m. Eastern Time on Monday, Jan. 6, 2014. Comments may be submitted via email todisaster[at]nist[dot]gov or mailed to NIST Technical Investigation Joplin, 100 Bureau Dr., Stop 8611, Gaithersburg, Md. 20899-8611.

Census Bureau Releases New Interactive Visualization of Jobs, Businesses and Other Key Economic Statistics

Census Bureau Releases New Interactive Visualization of Jobs, Businesses and Other Key Economic Statistics

Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released a new interactive tool designed to visualize the key economic findings found in the statistical agency's most recent Business Dynamics Statistics report released in July. The Business Dynamics Statistics Visualization Tool spans four decades of information about America's economy - providing key insights on job creation and loss during the most recent recession. Economic measures such as employment, number of establishments and number of firms can be analyzed for a single year or multiple years from 1977 to 2011.

The tool has three major components: an interactive thematic map for the 50 states, interactive bar charts that give side-by-side comparisons of states and business sectors as well as time series data comparisons over a range of time.  It also is providing a new and easy way for users to look at key economic trends about America's economy by visualizing statistics over time.

In partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the Census Bureau has produced annual data series for the Business Dynamics Statistics since 2008. For more information on the Business Dynamics Statistics program, go to <http://www.census.gov/ces/dataproducts/bds/>.

Guidance on how to use the visualization tool can be found at <http://www.census.gov/ces/dataproducts/bds/what_to_do_first.html>.

Other Economic Statistics Tools for Use

The Census Bureau's first mobile app, America's Economy, provides smartphone and tablet users with real-time releases of the economic statistics that drive decisions on employment, housing construction, international trade, retail sales and manufacturing, and are important tools for businesses, economists, planners and policymakers. For more information on the app, visit the mobile app home page.

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker Discusses "Open for Business Agenda" at Lake Shore Cryotronics in Ohio

Pritzker touring plant with Lakeshore Cryotronics officials

Secretary Penny Pritzker traveled to Westerville, Ohio yesterday to deliver a speech highlighting the Obama Administration’s economic growth agenda and the Department of Commerce’s priorities. Secretary Pritzker announced a new strategic vision for the Department, the “Open for Business Agenda,” November 14.  In Ohio, Secretary Pritzker toured and delivered remarks at Lake Shore Cryotronics, an international leader in the development of cryogenic temperature sensors and instrumentation.

Promoting trade and investment is a major part of Secretary Pritzker’s “Open for Business Agenda.” Nationwide, America’s businesses are exporting: the United States hit a record $2.2 trillion dollars in exports last year, up $600 billion dollars from 2009 when President Obama launched his National Export Initiative. Lake Shore Cryotronics, for example, generates 60 percent of sales from exports. Nearly 10 million U.S. jobs are now supported by exports, up 1.3 million since 2009. But the United States still under-exports, which is why the Secretary is gearing up to launch NEI 2.0, which will aim to help more U.S. companies sell their goods and services to more markets around the world.

In order to achieve greater economic growth and create more good jobs, Secretary Pritzker talked about the need to attract more foreign investment to the United States. According to Columbus 2020, an economic development organization for the 11-county Columbus Region, about 39,000 people in Central Ohio are employed by foreign-owned companies. But as of 2011, 5.6 million jobs nationwide million jobs are supported by foreign direct investment, supporting $437.8 billion in wages to U.S. employees. Global businesses want to be here in the United States because of our stable rule of law, intellectual property protections, solid financial markets, world-class universities, strong consumer base, and our low-cost and abundant energy. That is why President Obama launched SelectUSA at the Commerce Department in 2011. SelectUSA has been working with foreign CEOs and economic development groups across the country to put even more deals in the pipeline.