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The Work Behind the Data

To answer a question, sometimes you need to leave the search engine behind and collect the data yourself. CRP conducts surveys, focus groups, and other types of primary data collection for our clients, allowing us to build a project around specific research questions (“What are the housing conditions in ZIP Code 43214?” “Do families in Ohio have access to infant car seats?”). For public data, we usually don’t hear the details about how the figures were collected. But a lot of work goes into primary data collection!

Take some figures we’ve used in our projects:

Consumer Price Index (CPI): published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, used to measure inflation, among many other economic uses. CPI uses a standard “basket of goods” to compare how the prices and proportions of spending change over time. The “basket” includes over 200 items and services like coffee, rent, gas, medicine, pet food, tuition, and haircuts. How does the BLS know how much an average person spends on these things? They ask! Over a two-year period, 7,000 families provide survey data each quarter, and another 7,000 families keep detailed diaries listing everything they buy in two weeks!

Bicycle and Pedestrian Activity: published nationally by the Institute of Transportation Engineers, and locally by MORPC (Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission). These figures describe bike and walking demand throughout the country. Conducted twice annually, community volunteers sign up and literally count people walking and biking at intersections and paths throughout the region. The next count is coming up May 15-21. You can sign up to be part of this important data collection!