Accessing Demographic Clusters with CartoDB's Segmentation Layers

The U.S. Census is an amazing resource of data and information. The U.S. Census performs a number of regular as well as ongoing surveys that document many facets of people and life in the U.S. These data can often be used to help learn about dimensions of a location and what it might contain.

As humans though, when asked about what a neighborhood is like we don’t rhyme off a series of census variables for that neighborhood. Instead, whether it be the hipsters of Williamsburg or the stroller traffic jams of Noe Valley, we tend to describe neighborhoods in terms of archetypes that we can more easily relate to. These kinds of neighborhood descriptions can add meaningful value and context to your location data.

We want to make this kind of contextual data available and easier to use in CartoDB.

Releasing segmentation layers

Today we are releasing, inside the Data Observatory, a new set of layers created from demographic segmentation. Demographic segments provide a kind of grouping of people, that we then apply a data-driven naming method that makes them easily readable and recognizable when analyzing your data. By releasing them in the Data Observatory, we are making them available for users to use for augmenting their own data quickly.

The segmentation is generated through a clustering procedure that we’ll cover in more depth in a forthcoming blog post. The output gives us two granularities of clustering, one that produces 10 unique groupings of people across the USA and a second that creates 55 unique groupings of people.

10 cluster resolution

To generate these clusters we used the algorithum proposed by Spielman and Singleton and for the x10 clusters we were able to adopt their naming structure.

The names of the 10 different neighborhood types are:

Hispanic and kids
Low Income and Diverse
Middle income, single family homes
Native American
Low income, minority mix
Old Wealthy, White
Residential institutions, young people
Wealthy Nuclear Families
Low Income African American
Wealthy, urban, and kid-free

55 cluster resolution

The 55 cluster layer was more difficult, as the names of each group had not been previously published. For these more detailed categories, we generated names based on the dominant traits of the populations within that cluster (or the dominant omission in a few cases). For example, if an area within a city population is found to be highly dominated by college age adults with some college education, it was given the name, “City center university campuses”.

Take a look at all 55 proposed group names:

Middle Class, educated, suburban, mixed race
Low income on urban periphery
Suburban, young and low-income
Low-income, urban, young, unmarried
Low education, mainly suburban
Young, working class and rural
Low income with gentrification
High school education, long commuters, Black, White Hispanic mix
Rural, bachelors or college degree, rent/owned mix
Rural,high school education, owns property
Young, city based renters in sparse neighborhoods, low poverty
Predominantly black, high high school attainment, home owners
White and minority mix, multilingual, mixed income / education, married
Hispanic/Black mix multilingual, high poverty, renters, uses public transport
Predominantly black renters, rent / own mix
Lower middle income with higher rent burden
Black and mixed community with rent burden
Lower middle income with affordable housing
Relatively affordable, satisfied lower middle class
Satisfied lower middle income, higher rent costs
Suburban/rural, satisfied, decently educated lower middle class
Struggling lower middle class with rent burden
Older white home owners, less comfortable financially
Older home owners, more financially comfortable, some diversity
Younger, poorer,single parent family, Native Americans
Older, middle income Native Americans married and educated
Older, mixed race professionals
Works from home, highly educated, super wealthy
Retired grandparents
Wealthy and rural living
Wealthy, retired mountains/coasts
Wealthy diverse suburbanites on the coasts
Retirement communities
Urban - inner city
Rural families
College towns
College town with poverty
University campus wider area
City outskirt university campuses
City center university campuses
Lower educational attainment, homeowner, low rent
Younger, long commuter in dense neighborhood
Long commuters White/Black mix
Low rent in built up neighborhoods
Renters within cities, mixed income areas, White/Hispanic mix, unmarried
Older Home owners with high income
Older home owners and very high income
White/Asian Mix big city burb dwellers
Bachelors degree mid income with mortgages
Asian/Hispanic Mix, mid income
Bachelors degree higher income home owners
Wealthy city commuters
New developments
Very wealthy, multiple million dollar homes
High rise, dense urbanites

On the map

You can explore both on this map and the deep insights dashboard here or take a look at the simple map version here:

Accessing demographic segments

Using the awesome power of the Data Observatory to bring these segments into your data is as easy as calling a quick SQL statement.

To query these segments at a single point location, simply use the function

10 clusters

    SELECT * FROM OBS_GetUSCensusCategory(
        CDB_LatLng(40.704512, -73.936669),
        'Spielman-Singleton Segments: 10 Clusters')

55 clusters

    SELECT * FROM OBS_GetUSCensusCategory(
        CDB_LatLng(40.704512, -73.936669),
        'Spielman-Singleton Segments: 55 Clusters')

Augmenting your data

Another interesting use of the segmentation data is to augment your tables. You can do so by adding a new column to any table called segment (or any other unique name).

Next, augment your table with the segment description:

    update  your_table set segment = (
      SELECT * from OBS_GetUSCensusCategory(
        the_geom,
        'Spielman-Singleton Segments: 10 Clusters'
      )
    )
    update your_table set segment = (
      SELECT * from OBS_GetUSCensusCategory(
        the_geom,
        'Spielman-Singleton Segments: 55 Clusters'
      )
    )

To create similar or even better visualizations, you can watch our Data Observatory webinar as many times as you need to!

WATCH

Next steps

Today we wanted to announce the availability of this exciting set of layers in the Data Observatory. In future blog posts we will explore some of these groupings, what they can tell us about the U.S., and how they can add context and insight into your data. We will also detail how these segments were created and how we plan to improve and expand on them in the future.

For further reading checkout the data services-api docs and the Data Observatory.

For now, happy demographic segment mapping!

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