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Renewing the R Consortium Census Working Group

By June 19, 2023Announcement, Blog

Guest author: Ari Lamstein

Ari Lamstein is a Director of Analytics at MarketBridge, a Marketing Analytics Consultancy.

Back in 2018, when I was most involved in developing choroplethr, Joe Rickert, R Consortium Director, recommended that I submit a proposal to the R Consortium to create a Working Group related to Census data. I was intrigued to see what a group like that could accomplish and submitted a proposal. The proposal was accepted, and the group’s main accomplishment was publishing A Guide to Working with Census Data in R. After publishing the Guide, however, the group went dormant.

Fast forward 5 years, and last month I published a new package related to Census data: zctaCrosswalk. When discussing the package with Joe he mentioned that he recently spoke to some leaders at Census who were interested in revitalizing the R Consortium Census Working Group. He asked me if I was interested in meeting the people who were interested, and of course I said yes!

We just had a preliminary meeting, and several exciting ideas were discussed. One is to write a new version of ‘A Guide to Working with Census Data in R.’ We are still in the early stages of deciding what a new version might look like, but one goal would be to remove links to deprecated software such as American FactFinder. More broadly, the original guide was written as a survey of both Census data and CRAN packages. Perhaps the Guide might be more useful if it was written more as a tutorial to the most popular datasets and packages.

We also discussed ideas for longer-term projects. For example, applying for funding from the R Consortium, and directing that funding towards the development of R packages that might improve the R ecosystem for Census data.

If you have an interest in following our work or participating in our next meeting, please sign up below.