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USA Trade Statistics On-Line

United States Census: Case Study

 

The United States Census Bureau publishes monthly national trade data for more than 40,000 unique commodities. The data includes information about the exporter, port of export, quantity of export, date of export, and more. The financial community—including futures houses, research organizations in major U.S. corporations, and academic researchers—all rely on the timely release of this data.

 

When we first began working with the U.S. Census in 1998, its software solutions were not meeting users’ needs. They could not get the data they wanted in a timely fashion, and wanted web-based access to up-to-date data. The end goal was to ensure that national economic indicators—which are eagerly anticipated throughout the nation’s economic community—were available throughout the country within hours of the data’s release.

 

Challenges:

  • Vast data set tracking more than 40,000 unique export commodities
  • Multiple databases and classifications for the commodities, including two international standards and NAICs
  • End users needed to have access to the data within an hour of U.S. Census making it available to the system

 

Beyond 20/20 Solution:

  • Our solution includes SQL Server database, Analysis Services cubes, and Beyond 20/20 Perspective
  • Using data cubes, we organized and divided the data.
  • Special handling for the “Country” dimension to allow countries to be organized alphabetically, by geography and by treaties/agreements, accommodating changes to country definitions over time.
  • A two-stage system manages processing load such that the new monthly data can be loaded into cubes, verified, and published within an hour of data release
  • Data processing is automated, providing a repeatable, reliable, and efficient process
  • Users can save queries and re-run favourite queries each month with updated data

 

The Beyond 20/20 solution continues to run smoothly and meet U.S. Census and its users’ needs, 15 years on. We continue to work with U.S. Census to extend the solution’s functionality and usability.