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SEMCOG Community Profile Tips

Working with data
Custom Community Profiles
American Community Survey (ACS) Data


Working with data

SEMCOG Community Profiles provide data organized under five main subject areas: population, economy & jobs, housing, transportation and land use. This data is available at the regional, county, and community levels. The data can be used for research purposes, grant writing, planning, and reporting.

  • The best way to access the latest data is to link to it. Add community profiles to your favorites or link to it from your Web site. This will allow you to keep abreast of updates made to the data.
  • To save all sections of the profile as one PDF, click the "View complete print friendly profile" link at the top of any section. Then use File > "Save As..." to save the PDF document to your computer.
  • Working with information in Word or Excel
    • To copy data: use the mouse to highlight the desired tables inside the tabbed box. Right-click and select copy or press Ctrl+C.
    • To copy a picture or graph: select it, then right-click, and select "Save picture as..." Once you save the file, you can insert it into a Word or Excel file.
    • To capture the screen: press the Print Screen key and paste the image into a Word or Excel file, then crop the image to desired size.

  • When reusing SEMCOG data, always give appropriate date, title, and source information.

Custom Community Profiles

SEMCOG's Custom Community Profiles Tool allows users to create customized profiles to fit their specific needs. Users can aggregate data for multiple communities and/or determine which data items to include in their report. Use the tool to:

  • Analyze the merging of community services
  • Determine data sets for sub-regional planning, collaboration, or non-profit groups
  • Examine communities along a corridor
  • Provide approximate data for legislative districts
  • Create mini-profiles for inclusion in reports or grant applications
How to use the tool
  1. From the Data by Community page select the link "Custom Profile".
  2. Select one or more communities from the list at the top left of the page. To select multiple communities, hold down the Ctrl key while clicking on the name in the list. The names will appear in the box to the right of the list.
    • To remove a selected community, hold the Ctrl key and click on the name a second time in the list on the left.
  3. For a complete web profile for the selected communities, the "Create Custom Profile" button at the bottom of the page.
To turn off data items or sections
  • Uncheck the box in the "Show" column next to the items to be removed from the profile, then click the "Create Custom Profile" button at the bottom of the page. A PDF profile will be created in a new window if any data items are unchecked.
  • To customize page breaks in the PDF, return to the Custom Community Profile tool and check the "New Page" checkbox next to the data item you wish to insert a page break before. Click the "Create Custom Profile" button to regenerate the PDF with the new page breaks.
Saving selected communities
Members can request a custom ID for their area of service by emailing infocenter@semcog.org. A custom ID will allows members to quickly access their full, aggregated profile without having to select the communities each time they visit the site.


American Community Survey (ACS) Data from the U.S. Census Bureau

The Census Bureau's American Community Survey data include social, economic, housing, and demographic characteristics and are released annually in the form of single- and multi-year estimates. Annual one-year estimates are available for areas with populations of 65,000 or more. Three-year estimates represent the average characteristics over a 3-year period of time and are available for areas with populations of 20,000 or more. Five-year estimates, which represent the average characteristics over a 5-year period of time, include data for all geographies including tracts and block groups.

Which dataset to use

Since more than one dataset may be available for larger geographic areas, users need to decide which is the most appropriate for their needs. While the single-year estimates are more current, the multi-year year estimates are more reliable due to larger sample size.

Additional information on choosing between single- and multi-year estimates





For questions about the profiles, email infocenter@semcog.org or call 313-324-3330.