June 10, 2020

“Detroit Counts” census series continues with “Seeing the Census”

On June 17, the Wayne State University Library System will hold its second virtual event in the “Detroit Counts” series focused on the U.S. census at 10 a.m. via Zoom.

Featuring Amanda Tickner, Michigan State University Libraries, and Alex Hill, Wayne State University Center for Urban Studies and DETROITography, “Seeing the Census” will focus on how census data shapes the maps that influence public policy. The panelists will discuss their work using census data for GIS-driven visualizations of the world. GIS is a geographic information system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage and present all types of data that is in some way referenced to locations on the earth.

“The critical part right now is to ensure everyone gets counted since Detroit is a majority ‘hard-to-count’ area with very low response rate,” said Hill. “That means the data we use for the city won't be as representative as it should be. If people aren't counted, then they lose a little bit more political power and distributions of funding that could help them improve their own communities.”

An accurate census count is crucial for Detroit. It not only ensures representation in Congress and the Michigan legislature, but also how much federal funding is sent to the city and the State of Michigan for programs like Medicare and Medicaid, schools and Head Start, highway planning and construction, and nutrition and housing assistance for low-income families. Detroit’s fair share depends on an accurate census count.  For example, based on the census count:

  • Michigan receives $8.3 billion a year in federal funding for Medicaid and Medicare, from which Detroit receives $2 billion.
  • The federal government grants more than $1.5 billion to Michigan for schools, Head Start and school lunch programs.
  • Michigan receives $2.6 billion a year in food assistance for low-income families from the federal government.
  • Michigan gets over $1 billion dollars for road construction from the federal government.

Amanda Tickner is a librarian at Michigan State University, specializing in GIS in the Maps Library and an adjunct lecturer in anthropology. Tickner helps people find data, use GIS in research, teach GIS to beginners and troubleshoot GIS problems. The interdisciplinary quality of her GIS work allows her to help people from all disciplines.

Alex Hill is a researcher with the Urban Health research group at the Center for Urban Studies and GIS Director for the Biostatistical Epidemiology Research Design group at the Center for Translational Science and Clinical Research Innovation at Wayne State University. Hill is the founder and lead cartographer of DETROITography, a map blog about Detroit and regularly offers community workshops on data and mapping, called Maptime, in collaboration with the community groups across the city.

This event is free and open to the public. To join, go to rebrand.ly/whythecensus.       

The Wayne State University Library System consists of the university's five libraries: The David Adamany Undergraduate Library, the Purdy/Kresge Library, the Shiffman Medical Library, the Arthur Neef Law Library and the Walter P. Reuther Library, Archves of Labor and Urban Affairs, as well as the School of Information Sciences.

Wayne State University is a premier institution offering nearly 350 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 27,000 students.





Jill Wurm
Phone: (313) 577-4149
Email: ae0831@wayne.edu

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