Census and Preparedness: An Important Partnership  

Published on September 27, 2019

September is National Preparedness Month. Did you know that U.S. Census data helps communities to "be prepared, not scared" in the face of an emergency? We sat down with Aaron Miller, Arlington's Director of Public Safety Communications and Emergency Management, to find just how Arlington benefits. 

Q: Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau conducts a census to count every resident in the United States. How does Census data help in an emergency? 

Miller: The Census provides emergency managers and public safety officials with critical information to better prepare for and respond to emergencies and disasters in Arlington County. Data from the Census provides us with key demographic, socioeconomic and housing data that form the basis of Census Bureau tools we use in emergency management.  

Q: What kind of information do you find most useful?  

Miller: For example, OnTheMap for Emergency Management overlays real time disaster information with weather information from the National Weather Service and Census data. In the event of a disaster or emergency, it provides us with valuable, local-level information on our community, including things like age and primary language. We use this information to better deploy resources to meet the needs of the community.  

Q: What other role can Census data play in helping Arlington cope with an emergency?  

Miller: We also use the data when requesting state and federal disaster assistance. Information about size of households, age range, and other socioeconomic data help to support requests for disaster assistance following an emergency. Census data even forms the basis for our calculations to receive both state and federal disaster aid, so it is important that we make sure everyone is counted! 

Learn more about what Arlington is doing to prepare for the 2020 Census, and how you can get involved. 

How Ready Are You?

 The U.S. Census Bureau uses data to help first responders gauge the percentage of Americans who are prepared for an emergency.

Courtesy U.S. Census Bureau