Philadelphia FSRDC: A New Tool for Urban Research Launches in September 2017

A new center at Penn aims to give researchers a place to access and overlay rich sets of federal confidential data concerning everything from healthcare and labor to housing and urban demographics. The center, which will open in September 2017, is called the Philadelphia Federal Statistical Research Data Center (FSRDC). It is the newest of about 30 such centers across the United States, and offers a valuable new resource for researchers across a variety of disciplines, including urban researchers.

The new Philadelphia FSRDC will provide Penn faculty and students with access to non-public, confidential, microdata collected by a growing list of federal statistical agencies, including the Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Center for Health Statistics and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. In addition, researchers can link public or proprietary outside data to the data provided by federal statistical agencies, thus adding additional possibilities for data comparison and analysis.

The data available through the FSRDC are far more granular and specific than publicly available aggregated data or public-use microdata samples and, notably, are geolocated which will enable spatial and, specifically, urban research.  Importantly, this geolocated microdata enables research on spatial dimensions of inequality and poverty within urban areas and multiple related factors. The available data include administrative and survey records on specific businesses, households, and individuals that have persistent identifiers, so that researchers can link observations over time and across most datasets. The data contain precise geographic information for each observation, including addresses, which is far more specific than what might be available in public versions. Researchers get access to full datasets covering entire population or complete survey samples rather than subsets. Moreover, they can make use of unmodified original data and the full range of response items.

Read more from Iourii Manovskii’s article on the Penn Institute for Urban Research’s website.