Research & Areas of Expertise

Population statistics are fundamental building blocks for policy and decision analytics. UNM Geospatial and Population Studies (UNM-GPS) has a long history of providing demographic analysis and statistics to public entities.  UNM-GPS publishes annual population estimates at the state, county and local neighborhood levels within New Mexico, and customized demographic projections and analytics as decision-support tools for a variety of purposes.

For more than 15 years UNM-GPS’s Demographic Research Unit has managed spatial data resources 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 2010 and 2020 Censuses. UNM-GPS has become a nationally recognized leader in geospatial data engineering for applied purposes—optimizing processes of geospatial data collection, geocoding, and quality assurance and quality control (QA and QC). Project and consulting examples include:

  1. Construction of a statewide, micro-geographic register of housing units to support small-area demographic estimates and decennial census operations.
  2. New Mexico statewide liaison to the 2010 and 2020 Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) program.
  3. Use of our statewide, micro-geographic register of housing units to verify the Census Bureau’s Master Address File in the 2010 and 2020 Count Review Programs.
  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 was occurring. 
  5. Production of statewide demographic estimates with details of age, sex, race, and Hispanic origin for the New Mexico Department of Health—disseminated in ESRI shapefiles and Google Earth KMZ files. 
  6. Geographic data specialists in the National Academies of Science’s Panel to Review the 2010 Census and in a 2020 Census Quality Working Group.
  7. Direct advisement to the US Census Bureau’s Office of the Director and Geography Division on geospatial data strategies. 

UNM-GPS has a well-established track record in processing geospatial data and designing geospatial databases with demonstrated specialization in the following areas:

  • Geodatabase development—both general and for specific decision support objectives:
    1. Data ingestion and integration.
    2. Customized mapping.
    3. ESRI, Google Earth, QGIS, and other opensource 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.
  • 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. 

Applied research differs from other types of research in its link to decision-making. Competent decision-making involves modeling potential outcomes, quantifying risk, prioritizing competing goals and identifying policy options. Many policy decisions involve an assessment of population dynamics. UNM-GPS researchers and analysts are well versed in the customized formulation of demographic and other analytics for purposes of decision-support. Over the last 15 years UNM-GPS has advised and consulted with numerous public entities and has conducted many analyses around specific decisions to be made. Some examples include:

  • Decision support for public school facilities decisions (builds, updating, prioritization).
  • Demographic analytics and projections to support traffic planning.
  • Bill analysis on behalf of the New Mexico Legislative Counsel Services and 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.
  • Presentations to industry-specific decision-makers (such as the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors, Leadership New Mexico, and FOR-UNM).

The UNM-GPS Traffic Research Unit (TRU) has specialized in traffic crash data analysis for more than 40 years.

TRU maintains New Mexico's traffic crash database for the  New Mexico Department of Transportation Traffic Safety Division. TRU is dedicated to providing government officials, lawmakers, traffic researchers and the public with accurate traffic crash information including maps, annual crash reports, DWI reports, and community reports for improved, data-driven decision making.

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


NMDOT crash data is protected by federal mandate Title 23 U.S.C. Section 409 which forbids the discovery and admission into evidence of reports, data, or other information compiled or collected for activities required pursuant to federal highway safety programs, or for the purpose of developing any highway safety construction improvement project, which may be implemented utilizing federal-aid highway funds, in tort litigation arising from occurrences at the locations addressed in such documents or data.