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Idaho Policy Institute discusses data with Census Bureau director

Members of Boise State’s Idaho Policy Institute recently met with United States Census Bureau Director Robert Santos to discuss how the institute uses census data to support research and decision-making.

The Idaho Policy Institute is housed within the School of Public Service, and they work across the state with public, private and nonprofit organizations to inform decision making, overcome challenges and navigate change. Their annual statewide survey gathers input from Idaho residents on a wide range of topics, including the economy, taxes, elections, education, growth, housing and public safety.

participant group photo
Boise State University’s Idaho Policy Institute and U.S. Census Bureau, June 2024

The meeting discussed ways that the Census Bureau and the Idaho Policy Institute could support each other in the future, such as utilizing the bureau’s Tribal Relations Specialist to help build stronger relationships between Boise State and tribal communities, while the bureau is looking for ways to provide data to local communities beyond their survey each decade. The Census Bureau is also interested in learning more about partners like the Idaho Policy Institute to find out what data or tools would be most beneficial to them.

The institute uses census data in several ways, including as a resource in classrooms. The census provides a tool called the Application Programming Interface, which allows users to find specific information from the most recent census datasets for their own purposes. For example, the institute used the interface to demonstrate to Idaho’s governor that the affordable housing crisis is not an urban issue or a resort town issue, but rather an Idaho-specific issue. This information then led to the governor allocating $50 million towards workforce housing support.