Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Census Boundary Files

November 15, 2021

I have a term project which requires us to write a tutorial on free and open source geospatial software and data. My plan is to write it on how to use Python to perform areal interpolation of Canadian census data.

Up to now I’ve been using U of T's Canadian Census Analyser website to download census profile data in a format which is easy to join to the associated census boundary files but, as that website is not publicly available I will need to use data direct from StatCan. I have looked into their Beyond 20/20 formats, as well as their other methods of publishing profile data, but have not figured out any simple workflows for getting it into a format that can then be easily joined to the census boundary files.

I’ve started work on a Python function which will read in a census comprehensive file (for example) and then return a data frame that contains specific variables of interest as columns, and the census geographies as rows - basically something in the same format that the Census Analyser Website spits out. For example, all of the Ottawa-Gatineau census tracts as rows and the modes of commuting as columns.

Writing this function is not the simplest of tasks but I am getting close. I’m just wondering if I’m missing some app or resource that basically mimics the Census Analyser Website’s functionality but which is free and open source. Should I be spending more time trying to figure out how the StatCan Beyond 20/20 browser works or is there another way?

There are the Boundary files and there are two types: cartographic and digital. Cartographic boundary files portray the geographic areas using only the major land mass of Canada and its coastal islands. Digital boundary files portray the full extent of the geographic areas, including the coastal water area. The boundary files use the Lambert conformal conic projection. Boundary files using geographic projection (latitude and longitude coordinates) are available upon request.

Also, the 2016 Census Profile is available in IVT format which needs to be read using the Beyond 20/20 Professional Browser. This software is relatively user friendly and allows users to navigate through a large dataset. A set of slides is included, which includes a tutorial on how to use the tool.

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