Social Explorer, Infoshare

“Immigration is still part of the continuous cycling of population, as people who have lived in the city move on and are replaced by immigrants. This ‘demographic ballet’ is a source of strength for the city because it provides a supply of talent upon which its institutions rest.”
—Arun Peter Lobo and Joseph J. Salvo, “Portrait of New York’s Immigrant Mélange,” p. 36

“Under the seeming disorder of the old city, wherever the old city is working successfully, is a marvelous order for maintaining the safety of the streets and the freedom of the city. …This order is all composed of movement and change, and although it is life, not art, we may fancifully call it the art form of the city and liken it to the dance—not to a simple-minded precision dance with everyone kicking up at the same time, twirling in unison and bowing off en-masse, but to an intricate ballet in which the individual dancers and ensembles all have distinctive parts which miraculously reinforce each other and compose an orderly whole. The ballet of the good city sidewalk never repeats itself from place to place, and in any one place is always replete with new improvisations.”
—Jane Jacobs, “The Uses of Sidewalks: Safety,” The Death and Life of Great American Cities, p. 50

Social Explorer and Infoshare are two online tools that allow you to visualize census and other demographic data in maps and tables. To access these, search and find them through Brooklyn College’s list of available databases on the library website. If you’re accessing Social Explorer outside the Brooklyn College network, you’ll need to make a login to continue to access Brooklyn College’s professional edition subscription. Once you begin to research your specific neighborhoods in greater depth, you might want to take a look at some of the other demographic tools that Brooklyn College subscribes to: Today, we’ll learn how to find demographic data in Social Explorer and Infoshare and save it so that we can integrate it into neighborhood maps created from library and field research.

Social Explorer feeds census and other demographic data through a rich maps interface, so that you can quickly access and represent a lot of different data sets spatially. As you’ll be investigating different ethnic groups in various neighborhoods, the most recent data sets will likely be of greater interest, although you may want to look back to understand the shifting demographics of a particular area.

Different tools:
Along the top:
Save/Copy: To make or save an existing project. The name of a saved project will appear right above this area.
Make a Report: To make a table of data based, generally, on the information you’re currently representing.
Share/Export: Two methods to make your data visible outside of Social Explorer. We’ll more likely use export to make images that we can easily use elsewhere.
Search bar: We can use this search bar to navigate to a specific area. If we’re looking for a neighborhood within a borough, it’s generally easier to figure out what zip code or census tract we need to consider outside of Social Explorer and then use that information to search within the tool.

Data Selection (on the left-hand side): Choose by category (we’ll look at this one) or report which data you want to represent on the map. Some of the categories that may be of interest to you include: native/foreign born, religion, ancestry, age, gender, income, etc. Before or after you select a category, you can change your preferred moment in time, which will change which reports you’re looking at. For example, if we choose native/foreign born and leave the time selected at 2010 (the default), we’ll see a list of data from three reports: American Community Survey (ACS) 2006-2010 (5-year estimates), ACS 2008-2010 (3-year estimates), and ACS 2010 (1-year estimates).

Snapshots (along the bottom): In this pop-up area along the bottom, we can save maps of data as currently represented on our screen, so that we can easily access them later. When we save/create a project, all the snapshots currently created in this area will be included in that project.

More on Social Explorer:
Browse the different possibilities embedded in the tool:
To see how to cite Social Explorer for the maps you create, look at question #9 here:

Unlike Social Explorer, Infoshare is a less intuitive tool to use, but it allows you to combine data in tables in more complex ways. We’ll take a look at the first two tools, Area Profile and Area Comparison, but feel free to read through the User Guide to get a sense of other ways you can sift through data on Infoshare.

Tools along the top to look at (explained in the Infoshare user guide):
In Area Profile, “you can select a geographic area and obtain a profile of the area using data from any of the data files in Infoshare. This is best for obtaining a broad range of information for a particular area. For example, you could create a population profile of a particular zip code or find the birth and death rates for a neighborhood.”

In Area Comparison, “you can display select data for a set of geographic areas within a larger geographic region. This is useful for comparing specific characteristics of the smaller areas, e.g., zip codes, with each other, as well as comparing rates of selected events (e.g., birth rates) with those of larger areas such as Boroughs and Counties.”