LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas Institute for Policy & Social Research (IPSR) has been designated the lead agency of the State Data Center for the state of Kansas. In this role, IPSR — under the leadership of Xan Wedel — will work with a network of other Kansas data centers to find out what data users need and how to connect them to U.S. Census Bureau resources.
The State Data Center Program is one of the U.S. Census Bureau's longest and most successful partnerships. This cooperative program between the states and the U.S. Census Bureau was created in 1978 to make data available locally to the public through a network of state agencies, universities, libraries, and regional and local governments. The State Data Center network provides training and technical assistance to local governments, the business community, researchers and other local stakeholders in their use of Census Bureau data for research, administration, planning and decision-making.
The State Data Centers also provide the U.S. Census Bureau with valuable feedback on data use, the operational aspects of decennial and economic census and survey programs, and the various federal-state-local partnership programs that support U.S. Census Bureau activities. For example, Wedel will review housing counts to make sure newly built homes and group housing like residence halls and nursing homes are accurately counted in the upcoming 2020 census.
In several ways, this designation formally acknowledges IPSR’s longstanding service to Kansas and the U.S. Census Bureau. IPSR has been a coordinating agency in the Kansas State Data Center since the program's inception and expanded this role to become the Business & Industry Data Center for the state in March 2009.
Wedel, who has worked at IPSR since 1999, worked on efforts to prepare for the census and disseminate data after both the 2000 and the 2010 counts. Wedel was also elected to the National State Data Center steering committee in 2005 and served as secretary and chair during her three-year term.
Further, IPSR coordinates several initiatives that promote the use of census data by local stakeholders. IPSR has been producing the Kansas Statistical Abstract annually for more than 50 years. The Kansas Statistical Abstract is a compendium of state and local data covering state, county and city-level data on topics such as population, housing, education and energy. In addition, IPSR’s work as a U.S. Economic Development Administration University Center — under the leadership of School of Business lecturer and entrepreneurship program director Wally Meyer and IPSR associate researcher Genna Hurd — promotes the use of census data. Meyer and Hurd, along with regional development organizations, have developed a regional data portal available to the public.