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Nationally Available Data Sources

Several sources provide data for communities across the entire United States. Data may be aggregated by city, county, region, or neighborhood. Examples include:

  • The U.S. Decennial Census – The Decennial Census provides complete counts of populations and households each decade. Data is available for cities, counties, states, and metropolitan regions, as well as neighborhood scale boundaries such as tracts, block groups, and block.
  • The U.S. Census American Community Survey – The American Community Survey (or ACS) releases data about a wide range of demographic, housing, economic, and social characteristics of communities. Data collection is ongoing and updates are posted every year, but for smaller geographies, may only be reported as 3- or 5-year averages. See the American Community Survey tip sheet for more details.
  • Census Explorer – An interactive mapping website for displaying data from the decennial census and American Community Survey.
  • Census On the Map – Communities can use this tool to map, analyze, and download data about employment and commute distance.
  • Location Affordability Portal - This tool from HUD and DOT estimates the cost of living in a neighborhood for eight different household profiles. The data is downloadable and available for over 94 percent of American residents.  
  • - This site provides one of the most complete searchable sets of data in the U.S. Government. Users can find many types of data, including shape files and information for GIS mapping. Community-specific data, such as data on damage from Hurricane Sandy, is also available.
  • - provides data on a wide range of housing topics from vacant housing information to fair market rents for given areas.
  • National Transit Database - This database provides a range of information on transit usage and transit systems in the United States. Data is typically summarized by transit service provider.
  • National Land Cover Database  - GIS data that describes land cover for the entire United States in 30 x 30 meter square pixels.
  • Smart Location Database - This database provides information about the built environment and accessibility to destinations for every Census block group in the United States. Notable indicators include aggregate frequency of transit service, jobs accessible by public transit in 45 minutes, jobs accessible by car in 45 minutes, and street intersection density. A simple mapping tool is available for viewing indicators.
  • WalkScore - Walk Score measures walkability based on distances to nearby restaurants, grocery stores and other amenities, plus other analysis of pedestrian friendliness.
  • ParkScore – ParkScore measures how well U.S. cities are meeting the need for parks.
  • HotReports - The Sustainable Communities HotReport is designed to give community leaders and residents a quick and easy way to determine how well your community is performing on a variety of sustainability indicators.
Updated: Tuesday, April 8, 2014
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