Tuesday, August 21, 2012

There’s an App for That

By Ranada Robinson, Senior Project Associate.

In today’s smartphone dependent world, there’s an iPhone and Android “app” for everything from Facebook to the post office, from games to meeting facilitation. Now, economic developers have an application specifically for their data needs. Earlier this month, the U.S. Census Bureau rolled out a free Android mobile app (the iOS version is coming soon) that allows users to quickly gain information from the Census, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In its first phase of three, the app provides access to the latest data for 16 indicators, including several that Market Street keeps track of: unemployment rate, homeownership rate, new residential sales, and personal income. The coolest feature for this researcher is that users can set alerts to be notified when indicators are updated. Users are also able to view graphs illustrating historical trends for the indicators.

Future phases will include statistics from the consumer and producer price indices as well as population statistics. I’m hoping that at least state level data will be available in the future, if not for metro areas. In either case, I’m happy to see our federal government making steps to make data more easily accessible to American citizens. With smartphone access, if an indicator is updated the same day as a presentation, researchers can be in the know without opening and logging on to their laptops. This app is sure to become one of my favorites.