Areas of Expertise

Population Estimates and Projections; Demographic Forecasts and Analytics

Population statistics are fundamental building blocks for policy and decision analytics. The UNM Institute for Geospatial and Population Studies (GPS) has a long history of providing such analysis and statistics.  Not only has the GPS provided annual population estimates at geographic levels from the state to local neighborhoods (census tracts) within New Mexico, it has also provided customized demographic forecasts and analytics as decision-support tools for a variety of purposes, including:

  1. Survey sample design and remediation (adaptive sampling to correct limited sampling bias).
  2. Redesign of zoning laws to promote planning objectives.
  3. Planning for water resource use.
  4. Optimized delivery of resources for public school facility structural renovation and planning.
  5. Planning for incorporation of new municipalities.

GPS is a premier center for research in applied demography, nationally and internationally recognized for its expertise in small-area demographic modeling and demographic analytics.  Consulting clients (under contract as well as pro bono) include:

  1. US Census Bureau (Population Division).
  2. National Academies of Science’s Committee on National Statistics.
  3. New Mexico Department of Health.
  4. New Mexico Division of Finance Administration.
  5. Interstate Stream Commission.
  6. New Mexico Public School Facilities Authority (NM-PSFA).
  7. New Mexico Geospatial Advisory Committee. 
  8. Mid-Region Council of Governments (to support traffic planning).

GPS staff members have published more than 50 peer-reviewed articles, conference papers, and contract-based reports. For examples of our work, please visit our Research and Data links from the menu above.

Geospatial Data Engineering

GPS has managed spatial data resources for more than 15 years to support small-area demographic modeling, design of survey sampling frames, and development of the US Census Bureau’s Master Address File to support the 2000 and 2010 Censuses.Since the 2010 census, GPS has become a nationally recognized leader in geospatial data engineering—optimizing processes of geospatial data collection, quality assurance and quality control (QA and QC), and data updating for these specialized purposes. Project and consulting examples include:

  1. Construction of a statewide, micro-geographic register of housing units (Census block level) to support small-area demographic estimates (2003-present).
  2. Statewide participation in the 2010 Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) program (added 130,000 housing units to the Census Bureau’s Master Address File) (2007-2008).
  3. Use of our statewide, micro-geographic register of housing units to verify the Bureau’s Master Address File in the 2010 Count Review Program (2010).
  4. Lead consultants to the US Census Bureau on the redesign of the 2010 Count Review Program to be address-based and GIS-enabled and to occur in real time as the Census itself was occurring. 
  5. Production of statewide demographic estimates with details of age, sex, race, and Hispanic Origin (1990-2013 and continuing) for the New Mexico Department of Health—disseminated in ESRI shapefiles and Google Earth KMZ files (see datasets link in the menu above). 
  6. Participation as a geographic data specialist in the National Academies of Science’s Panel to Review the 2010 Census (see Work Examples link in menu above).
  7. Direct advisement of the Geography and 2020 Planning Divisions as well as the Office of the Director of the US Census Bureau on geospatatial updating strategies. 

This long experience in geospatial data formulation demonstrates the following specialized skills in algorithm development:

  • Geodatabase development—both general and for specific decision support objectives.
    1. Data ingestion and integration.
    2. Customized mapping.
    3. ESRI, Google Earth, and open source (such as MapWindow) interfaces.
    4. Customized integration of vector, point, and raster data.
  • Optimized geocoding processes
    1. Data ingestion and conflation.
    2. Enhanced algorithmic address matching.
    3. Applications of lean principles, value-stream mapping, and operations research methods to development of best practices in geocoding.
  1. QA/QC algorithms:
    1. Identifying duplicate addresses.
    2. Analysis of aerial imagery to produce housing-unit counts.
    3. GIS-based scanning algorithms for identifying missing data in micro-geographic housing-unit databases. 
    4. Decision analytics to apply cost-benefit thinking to optimizing remediation of missing data sources through fieldwork. 

Policy and Decision-Making Support

Applied research differs from other types of research in its link to decision making. Competent decision-making involves identifying options, modeling expected outcomes, quantifying risk, and prioritizing competing goals. Almost always, decisions involve an assessment of population dynamics. GPS researchers and analysts are well-versed in the customized formulation of demographic and other analytics for purposes of decision-support. While much of this role has been taken the form of expert advice and consulting, GPS has also built numerous analyses around specific decisions to be made. Some examples include:

  • Decision support for public schools facilities decisions (builds, updating, prioritization)
  • Demographic analytics/forecasts to support traffic planning
  • Bill analysis (at request of legislative counsel services or specific legislators)
  • Demographic modeling to support municipal incorporation decisions
  • Adaptive sampling to support survey-based research with strong risk for limited sampling bias.
  • Customized demographic projections to support zoning decisions
  • Customized group presentations that speak to industry-specific decision-making (such as the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors, Leadership New Mexico, and FOR-UNM)

In this area, GPS analysts have linked informal decision support with appropriate data and analytics. Current efforts include the construction of an enterprise dataset capable of providing rapid turn-around decision support analytics to legislators and other public decision-makers.

Traffic Safety Research

The Traffic Research Unit (TRU) has specialized in traffic safety for more than 40 years.

TRU maintains New Mexico's traffic crash database for the New Mexico Department of Transportation Traffic Safety Division. Much of the TRU section of this website is dedicated to providing the government and public with accurate traffic crash information. This includes many maps, the annual crash report and DWI report, and many community reports. TRU also helps with public decision making by providing data and analysis on an as-needed basis to traffic safety officials, lawmakers, the public and others.

TRU is proficient in providing advanced SAS programming, statistical data analysis, data integration, trend analysis, data cleansing and matching, GIS services, and geospatial analysis.