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US Census Bureau taps mobile quiz app to increase statistical literacy

The United States Census Bureau is leveraging an interactive mobile quiz application to increase citizens? knowledge of definitive U.S. population statistics.

Census PoP Quiz, based on the bureau's annual statistical survey of American communities, challenges users? knowledge of facts about all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the nation. It is an example of how a mobile application can be used to spur the public?s interest in governmental resources that often are taken for granted.

?The Census PoP Quiz mobile app is part of the Census Bureau?s digital transformation and is consistent with the bureau?s mission to provide accurate statistics of our growing, changing nation, using 21st century technology,? said Raul Cisneros, chief, Center for New Media and Promotions, U.S. Census Bureau. 

?The app introduces users to a wealth of information about topics from the American Community Survey, which provides statistics for every neighborhood in the nation on subjects ranging from education to commuting,? he said. 

Informative tools
The free app is available for both iPhone and Android smartphones and tablets. 

A user can tap on the state on which he wants his knowledge tested. He might be asked, for example, to put five cities from that state in order by percentage of married people and can use his finger to flick the cities into the correct position.

Users earn badges for each state challenge completed and can share their badges on Facebook, Twitter and other social-media sites.

Census PoP Quiz is the third bureau-developed app aimed at opening statistics to Americans. The other two are America?s Economy, which provides real-time updates for 19 key economic indicators, and dwellr, a source of neighborhood-level statistics on topics such as home values, education, and how people get to work. 

The apps show how developers can use official statistics to create useful and informative tools for the public by accessing the bureau?s application-programming interface. 

?This is also consistent with the Census Bureau?s mission to provide accurate statistics of our growing, changing nation, using 21st century technology to make that information available more quickly and easily,? Mr. Cisneros said.

Census PoP Quiz app lets players earn sharable badges.

The bureau?s American Community Survey is a mandatory, ongoing statistical survey that samples a small percentage of the population every year, giving communities the information they need to plan investments and services.

Information from the survey generates data that help determine how more than $400 billion in federal and state funds are distributed each year. The topics it covers include age, sex, race, family and relationships, income and benefits, health insurance, education, veteran status, disabilities, where you work and how you get there, where you live and how much you pay for some essentials.

Community planning
The detail is combined into statistics that are used to help decide everything from school lunch programs to new hospitals, according to 

?Our statistics touch everyone in the U.S. and nearly half of the U.S.  ? 48.2 percent ?use smartphones,? Mr. Cisneros said. ?Young, mobile adults are one group we hope downloads and uses the app. They are among the hardest population groups to count in a census. 

?One goal of Census PoP Quiz is to connect with this group and to make them aware of the Census Bureau and the statistics we produce,? he said. ?In addition, teachers of older students may find the app is useful in classroom lessons about statistics, population and geography.?

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter with Mobile Marketer, New York.