Drexel Researchers Will Be Able to Tap Into Trove of Census Data as Part of Philadelphia’s First Federal Statistical Research Data Center

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Starting in 2017, researchers from around the university will have the opportunity to access the nation’s highest-quality Census data for analysis of U.S. economy and public policy issues as a partner with the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, The University of Pennsylvania and Penn State University in a new Federal Statistical Research Data Center that will be located in Philadelphia.

“The selection of our Bank as the site of the first FSRDC in Philadelphia underscores the region's high-caliber research reputation,” said Keith Sill, vice president and director of the Philadelphia Fed’s Real-Time Data Research Data Center. “We are excited for the opportunity to connect local researchers with valuable Census data that inform important research for industries and communities in the Third District and across the country.”

Philadelphia’s center is one of five new research hubs that will join a network of 23 others across the nation — each one a partnership between federal statistical agencies and leading research institutions. They provide qualified researchers with a secure environment in which to access restricted-use microdata from the Census Bureau, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, National Center for Health Statistics, and Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“The FSRDC provides an important resource for graduate training at the universities in the Philadelphia area and graduate students will be important beneficiaries of the branch,” said Aleister Saunders, PhD, Drexel’s senior vice provost for research. “The integration of graduate training at area universities with the data resources in an RDC will help to produce future social science and health researchers and greatly ease collaboration between researchers at the Philadelphia-area universities and the many research institutions nationwide that are part of the network.”

The four research institutions have formed a consortium to operate and fund the Philadelphia center, as well as an existing FSRDC on the Penn State’s State College campus — which had been the only center in the state.

“Without a local center it was difficult and expensive for researchers in the area to undertake projects with the data and to contribute to the development of the overall research network,” Saunders said. “There are a large number of social science research centers in the Philadelphia area with a major presence in all the research areas that are dependent on access to RDC restricted data. The Philadelphia branch will allow these scholars to conduct research that is simply not possible without access to confidential micro data on individuals and businesses.”

Research conducted at these Data Research Centers benefits the Census Bureau by improving measures of the economy and people of the United States.

Because of the data’s confidential nature, the Census Bureau will review and approve requests for access to the FSRDC. Approved projects must demonstrate scientific merit, maintain the anonymity of individuals and firms in the data, and researchers are required to protect the confidentiality of the data they access.

The Philadelphia FSRDC is expected to open in the first half of 2017. For more information about the FSRDC network visit www.census.gov/fsrdc or email fsrdc@drexel.edu.