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Census Legacies Toolkit

Awareness & Advocacy on Census
Products and Tools

Community partnerships were critical to help ensure an accurate census count. How can we ensure that the products and tools that get produced from that data are user-friendly and community-friendly? This section will cover the ways that Census relationships and data (Census R+D) can help raise community awareness and utilization of U.S. Census Bureau tools and products including the American Community Survey, Household Pulse Survey, Economic Census, National Crime Victimization Survey, Statistics in Schools, and more. 

In addition to providing recommendations on how these data products can be effectively utilized for community planning and advocacy, this section will provide recommendations on ways for the U.S. Census Bureau to engage with grassroots organizations on improvements in user interface and user experience (UI/UX), in ways that enable communities to more readily utilize Census data products for planning and advocacy. Local and tribal government agencies can also play an important role, as relationships between community organizations and data/mapping experts in city and county governments, school districts, and planning districts, can strengthen the capacity of community groups to effectively partner with allies in government agencies and co-design regional solutions.

In the process of designing and creating new Census-related tools, we recommend a process of human-centered and community-centered design. Practically, this means that local and tribal community members  would be involved in all steps of the design and problem-solving process. Local and tribal community members would help in the conceptualization, development, and implementation of these Census tools. This ensures that these data tools would be usable and useful by focusing on the users, their specific needs and requirements, and by applying principles of human-centered design, user interface, and user experience that is well established in the technology sector. Such a process would ensure higher awareness, utilization, and efficiency with respect to the use of demographic, economic, and social data to solve community problems. 

Broadly speaking, the initial stages of community involvement around building these tools would revolve around immersion, observing, and contextual framing in which innovators immerse themselves in understanding the needs of users, outlining areas of improvement, and exploring how the tool will interface with the public at different levels. Consequent stages may then focus on community brainstorming, modeling and prototyping, and preliminary implementation in common community spaces. Once the Census tools have been co-designed, developed, and deployed, it is then necessary to explore different usability scales and get further community feedback in order to determine the success of the tool, and to make changes accordingly. 

A by-product of this community involvement is a heightened awareness within the community, not only with respect to these new data tools, but of the Census Bureau more generally in advance of 2030. State, local, and tribal governments also stand to benefit, as community data awareness and sophistication can increase awareness about government programs and deepen the quality of public-private partnerships. As needs and technology change over time, there will need to be updates and revisions to these tools. Keeping local and tribal communities engaged during these process, beyond the initial implementation, will ensure to raise the overall community awareness of the Census building up to 2030.