U.S. Census data and QGIS

In the spring of 2014 I am teaching the Research Methods at San Francisco State. I intended to introduce GIS using ArcMAP; but licensing ans software obstacles in the lab compelled me to intoduce the students to my old fallback, QuantumGIS.

The good news is that they can install and run it on their Mac laptops, or whatever hardware they have. That way they can take it with them. Also QGIS is now powerful enough, and intuitive enough, that I can use it as easily as commercial GIS software. Here, I am posting the tutorials I created for the class. Keep in mind that these tutorials are NOT written for power-users, nor for programmers, nor people familiar with SQL nor Python. These are quick-and-dirty tutorials for how to use GIS for the first time, for show policy-related research.

May 10: Second version of the tutorials, using Richmond, CA as the example. Since Richmond is a sub-unit of Contra Costa County, the city boundaries and the Census-tract boundaries do not align; they overlap. And since the boundary of Richmond is VERY irregular, we will need to join in the census data, then normalize it as area-densities, and then clip away the rest of the county data before analysis.
1. Getting and prepping Census data from American FactFinder for Contra Costa Co.
2. Tweaking your TIGER file: reproject, trim shorelines, prep Attribute Fields
3. Join, normalize, clip, and analyze your data (revised 140513 version)
May 3: First version of the tutorials, using San Francisco as the example. It turns out this was miseladingly simple, because Census-tract boundaries and county-boundaries align. That means you don’t need to reproject, join, normalize, and clip the data before analysis. Still useful as an introduction to getting FactFinder data and TIGER shapefiles.
 First tutorial: getting and prepping census data from American FactFinder2.
 Second tutorial: getting and prepping TIGER shapefiles from FactFinder2.
 Third tutorial: “Making Pretty Maps”: joining data, choropleth maps, composing output.