Global Region-builder Geo-Code Prototype

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Regional analysis in the United States is limited by the alphabetic FIPS codes which were assigned in the 1960’s. The base codes assigned alphabetically for states, then alphabetically for counties and comparable geographies within states, made it simple to lookup individual state or county data in a list. Some regional aggregation was done in the establishment of Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA), which were separately coded. Many of these regions matched the geography of early Metropolitan Councils of Government. The relationship definitions which defined such MSAs by workforce commuting, led to their widening over time to more jurisdictions, as well as necessitating combinations of MSAs for market analysis. Since the geographic base changed over time, there was little opportunity for long term analysis of change on standard geography. Totals used obscured differences within the underlying territory. There was no comparable national system to aggregate non-metropolitan counties into standard regions, although most states established some form of multi-county regional councils. Some, like Virginia, used sub-state districts for data aggregation and use by other State agencies, allowing the region number to act like a FIPS code.

In the 1990’s, commerce, industry and even workforce commuting expanded along Interstate and Primary routes, showing connections between MSAs and a broad range of non-metropolitan counties, often in adjoining states. To understand these relationships, there was clear need for multi-regional analysis, but no data sets supported this. The author began work in 1998 to promote the development of such a system, submitting a comment to the U.S. Census Bureau February 12, 1999 relative to: Alternative Approaches to Defining Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Areas.

Continued work on the issue and a review of other national and international systems led to the conclusion that a global geo-code system was needed, since existing formats had tended to be based on an alphabetic approach. Given the multiplicity of regional alignments, multi-national, multi-state, a global geo-code system appeared appropriate. The purpose of this paper is to present the prototype design for the purpose of further consideration by the user communities.

The system is based on a geocode scheme set up for earth that focuses on established political boundaries as a basis for regional grouping of nations, states and localities. It is decimal system based to take advantage of the sort criteria for numbers in computers. It utilized the Sector Group and Region codes of the United Nations and ISO.

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Global Region-builder Geo-Code Prototype

  1. 1. Global Region-builder Geo-Code Prototype © by Thomas J. Christoffel, AICP, MeRSA Regional Intelligence – Regional Communities, LLC 57th Annual North American meetings of the Regional Science Association International Denver, Colorado November 13, 2010
  2. 2. The Regional Analysis Problem Regional analysis in the United States is limited bythe Federal Information Processing Standards(FIPS) codes created in the 1960’s. State FIPS codes were assigned alphabetically forstates beginning with 01 for Alabama. Within states, counties and comparablegeographies were also done alphabetically beginningwith 01 then 03 – new county option. Tyranny of the Alphabet – Easy to find individualstate or county data in a list, but not to relate onejurisdiction to another in a table or spreadsheet.
  3. 3. Example: FIPS Code and SpatialRelationships for States Compared
  4. 4. Metropolitan Statistical Areas Regional aggregation was done in theestablishment of Metropolitan StatisticalAreas (MSA), which were codedseparately. Many of these regions matched thegeography of the Metropolitan Councilsof Government of that time. The Washington, D.C. Metro area is anexample.
  5. 5. MetropolitanWashington Council ofGovernments (COG)(Yellow)MSAs & CMSAs 2010(Grey)Non-metro (Green)
  6. 6. Although Semi-autonomous Regions,States are too big for regional analysis
  7. 7. Counties, 3,034 of them, the original substate district & basic Census FIPS coded unit, are too small for regional analysis. Note: 35,937 sub-county governments - 19,431 municipal & 16,506 township
  8. 8. Most analysis focuses on the Metropolitan Areas – MSAs
  9. 9. MSA Limitations The relationships which define MSAs, primarilyworkforce commuting, led to their widening overtime to include more jurisdictions. Since the geographic base changes over time,there is no option for long term analysis ofchange on a standard multi-jurisdictional regionalgeography. MSA totals obscure differences within theunderlying territory, which has lead to faultyanalysis. Development of Micropolitan Areas is not asolution.
  10. 10. MSA focus leaves out Non-Metro Counties
  11. 11. Alternative? Most states established some form of multi-countyregional councils in the 1960’s & 1970’s whichcovered all counties, metro or non-metro. Many, like Virginia, used sub-state districts asregions for data aggregation and use by other Stateagencies. The region number or letter could be used like theFederal FIPS code for sorting and aggregating databy region. These regions also have organized regionalgovernmental units using the data for regionalplanning and some were capable of regional action.Such regions “work” for their local governments
  12. 12. Virginia Planning Districts – Region Numbers Have Worked Like a FIPS Code Since 1968
  13. 13. Using the Various Sub-State Districts Nationally produces a Map Something Like This:Regional Councils Are Emerging Regional Communities; Regions that work
  14. 14. Need for Multi-regional Analysis Emerges In the 1990’s, commerce, industry and even workforce commuting expanded along Interstate and Primary routes, showing connections between MSAs and a broad range of non-metropolitan counties, often in adjoining states. To understand these relationships, there was clear need for multi-regional analysis, but no data sets supported this. The author began work in 1998 to promote the development of such a system, submitting a comment to the U.S. Census Bureau February 12, 1999 relative to: Alternative Approaches to Defining Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Areas.
  15. 15. Conclusion: Global Geo-code system needed Continued work on the issue and a review of other national and international systems led to the conclusion that a new global geo-code system design was needed. The goal of the system is to cover all geographic territory of our local planet within a ten base system. There are different systems of accounting for continents. These can be reviewed at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continents The intent of the geo-codes is to group political entities based on relative proximity. The purpose of this paper is to present the prototype design for the purpose of further consideration by the user communities.
  16. 16. Geo-codes Using North to South, East to West – NSEW – Numbering0000 Earth0900 Arctic Ocean1000 Europe2000 Africa3000 Atlantic Ocean4000 Antarctica5000 Americas6000 Pacific Ocean7000 Oceana8000 Asia Map source: http://www.clker.com/clipart-13513.html9000 Indian Ocean
  17. 17. Political-Geographic Area Groups Using the Sector and Region names utilizedby the United Nations,http://unstats.un.org/unsd/methods/m49/m49regin.htm, the next levels of the global geo-code prototype system was developed. Country names and relationships werematched to those on the Statoids websitemaintained by Gwilliam Lawhttp://www.statoids.com/wab.html North American example -
  18. 18. Geo-codes – Americas UN NorthernGrouping of Political-Geographic Areas 5 0 00 Americas 5000 Code Code Assigned BaseSector Assigned To UN UN Political-Geographic GlobalCode For UN Political Name Geo- Northern Geographic Code Grouping Name 5 1 10 Greenland 5110 5 1 20 Saint Pierre and Miquelon 5120 5 1 30 Canada 5130 5 1 40 United States of America 5140 5 1 50 Bermuda 5150 United States Minor 5160 5 1 60 Outlying Islands
  19. 19. United States Country Geo-code - 5140 Next step is a geo-code for each State. The U.S. Census Bureau has defined regions and divisions. This framework was used to develop NSEW State geo-codes that follow:
  20. 20. State Geo-codes – USA - What does this accomplish?Difference – Maine is 01 compared to FIPS 23; Alabama is 21 compared to 01 Division Geo-code Region/State Abr. FIPS 1. New England Northeast/ 01 Maine ME 23 02 New Hampshire NH 33 03 Vermont VT 50 04 Massachusetts MA 25 05 Rhode Island RI 44 06 Connecticut CT 09 2. Middle Atlantic Northeast/ 07 New York NY 36 08 New Jersey NJ 34 09 Pennsylvania PA 42 3. South Atlantic South/ 10 Delaware DE 10 11 Maryland MD 24 12 District of Columbia DC 11 13 Virginia VA 51 14 West Virginia WV 54 15 North Carolina NC 37 16 South Carolina SC 45 17 Georgia GA 13 18 Florida FL 12 4. East South Central South/ 19 Kentucky KY 21 20 Tennessee TN 47 21 Alabama AL 01 22 Mississippi MS 28
  21. 21. Division Geo-code Region/State Abr. FIPS5. West SouthCentral South/ 23 Louisiana LA 22 24 Arkansas AR 05 25 Oklahoma OK 40 26 Texas TX 486. East North Central Midwest/ 27 Michigan MI 26 28 Ohio OH 39 29 Indiana IN 18 30 Illinois IL 17 31 Wisconsin WI 557. West NorthCentral Midwest/ 32 Minnesota MN 27 33 North Dakota ND 38 34 South Dakota SD 46 35 Iowa IA 19 36 Nebraska NE 31 37 Missouri MO 29 38 Kansas KS 208. Mountain West/ 39 Montana MT 30 40 Wyoming WY 56 41 Idaho ID 16 42 Nevada NV 32 43 Utah UT 49 44 Colorado CO 08 45 New Mexico NM 35 46 Arizona AZ 049. Pacific West/ 47 Alaska AK 02 48 Washington WA 53 49 Oregon OR 41 50 California CA 06 51 Hawaii HI 15
  22. 22. How do geo-codes enable region-building for analysis?Example: Mid-Atlantic Region with Regional Councils as the Unit of Analysis State Codes 5140-08 NJ to 5140-14 WV
  23. 23. In-State Example: Virginia Alphabetic by County and City – Charles City County
  24. 24. Charles City County with its Region –Richmond Regional Planning District
  25. 25. Mid-Atlantic Change by Regional Council Region – Richmond Region in its Mid-Atlantic Context, not just Virginia
  26. 26. % change – provides a different picture.
  27. 27. Loss ofcountryside –viewshed? Regionland area lessFederal and StateLands – includingUrban Areas
  28. 28. Overall density in 2005 drops when Urban areas pulled out – withtime series we could see better the sprawls as build out occurs.
  29. 29. All Global Geo-code Prototype:0000 Earth; 0900 Arctic Ocean; 1000 Europe
  30. 30. 2000 Africa
  31. 31. 3000 Atlantic Ocean4000 Antarctica5000 Americas
  32. 32. 6000 Pacific Ocean7000 Oceana9000 Indian Ocean
  33. 33. 8000 Asia
  34. 34. Goals of this Presentation Report on this effort to researchers and practitioners. Find people who may be interested in this project for analysis of other multi-jurisdictional regions. What can the Geo-codes be used for? see Data analysis and Topic Tags – see Delicious Tags for geography and subject at I.see.regions.workhttp://delicious.com/I.see.regions.work and Regional Community Development Newshttp://regional-communities.blogspot.com/ Thank you!
  35. 35. Regional Intelligence – Regional Communities, LLC Tom (Thomas J.) Christoffel, AICP, MeRSA, Editor Regional Community Development News P.O. Box 1444 Front Royal, Virginia (VA 22630), USA E-mail: Tom.Christoffel@gmail.com Phone or fax: 1-540-635-8582 Web: http://ri-rc.com The “Regions Work” Initiative © 1998

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