Following area list of common questions about the data portal, how to use it, and the data it includes. If this page does not answer your questions, please feel free to contact Molly Goren-Watts at mgoren-watts "at" pvpc.org or 413-781-6045. We are updating this page on a regular basis, so let us know if there is a question that we missed!
Q: Do I have to create a User Account to search and download data?
A: No, you can simply click the “Create Query” button to proceed. User accounts are for designated members of the ROADS partnership and are not necessary for obtaining most data from this site.
Q: Do I have to select at least one item in each box?
A: You are only required to select at least one item in a Time and Geography box.
Time: Under Time, you can only select one time type per query. If there is content in the middle Time box, you must select at least one item. You must select one or more items in the third Time box.
Geography: There are six Geography boxes. You only need to select a single geography from any one of the six boxes, however you may select as many geographies as you want from all of the six boxes at once.
Variable: You must select at least one variable and can select as many variables as you want beyond that.
Q: Can I select multiple years or geographies at a time?
A: Yes, hold down the control (Ctrl) key while selecting multiple years or geographies. However, you may only choose one "type" of time period per query. For example, downloading data for 1-year-estimates and 5-year-estimates requires two queries of the database.
Q: What is the difference between Annual data and 1, 3 or 5-year Estimates?
A: Annual data represents data that is collected by an agency for a single year, while 3 or 5-year estimates represent estimates based on a sample of the population that was gathered over a 1, 3 or 5 year time period. Three and five year estimates are NOT an average of the data for that time period.
1 Year estimates are similar to "annual" data, however they are specifically data from the U.S. Census Bureau and are provided in this manner to match the language provided by that data source.
Q: What areas are covered by each Region? I.e.. “Capitol Region”
A: See our "Regional Geographies" page for all detailed regional definitions.
Q: Can I deselect a variable to have no variables selected under a particular category?
A: Yes. Hold down the Control button and click on the selected variable again. It should then be deselected.
Q: How do I start a new query?
A: You can either just click new variables and click Submit or refresh the page to start from scratch.
Q: Where does the data come from?
A: Data is collected by staff from the ROADS Partner organizations from a variety of different sources, primarily public government websites and then added to the database. Please see the Data Sources page for a full list.
Q: How often does this data get updated?
A: The majority of the data is updated annually but the frequency and timing that a specific variable is updated is dependent upon:
- when new data becomes available from the original source,
- when the data is needed by ROADS partners for specific projects, and
- available resources and time at ROADS partner agencies for data collection and management.
If you have questions about the timing of updates for a specific data variable and when it will become available through the data portal, please contact Molly Goren-Watts at the PVPC.
Q: Why is there no data for certain years, geographies, and variables?
A: Not every variable has data for every year and geography. Try expanding your search to multiple years or datasets. As a reminder, the data stored and shared here was primarily developed for the use of the ROADS partners and has been made available to the public in hopes that it can be useful to a wider audience. Full datasets and more current data can often be found through the website of the organization listed as the source for a specific data variable.
Q: How do I know which Time categories to use?
A: The Data Reference spreadsheet located on the right hand side of the page identifies which variables have data for specific years. In regards to time TYPES, as a general rule census data is listed under 1-, 3-, or 5-year estimates. (Though population estimates are listed annually.) Most other data is listed under the "Annual" time type. Exploration and some trial queries may be necessary to find exactly what you are looking for.