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Essential Vocabulary


Age data is reported for five-year age groups and select summary groups such as 18 years and over.

Median Age

Median age is calculated from the distribution of age by five-year groups. See Median.

Average Household Size

See Household.


Bands define unique study areas around a center point, such as a store location. They are defined by distance and do not overlap.For example, if you had 5-, 10-, and 15- mile band around a location with 10 households in each, the total number of households in each band would be 10.


A census block is a component of a block group identified by a four-digit code. Blocks are small in area, in general, especially in cities. However, blocks in rural or remote areas may cover hundreds of square miles. A block code that starts with a zero indicates a water-only block.

Block group (BG)

A block group is a collection of one or more blocks and a statistical division of a census tract identified by a one-digit code. Block groups do not cross census tract, county, or state boundaries. In general, a block group is comprised of 600 to 3,000 residents. A zero block group code indicates a water-only BG.


A zone around a location or point on a map that can be measured in time or distance. For example, a store's 15-minute drive-time buffer defines the area in which drivers can reach the store in 15 minutes.

Census Tract

Census tracts are small statistical subdivisions of a county, with 1,200 to 8,000 residents typically. The boundaries are usually delineated by local committees, and do not cross county or state lines. Tracts are identified by a six-digit code, with an implied decimal between the fourth and fifth digit.


A schema for dividing map features into a specified number of classes according to selected attribute values. For example, sales territories might be divided into five classes according to the number of accounts they contain. Each class is then assigned a unique symbol to create a thematic or color-coded map.

Color-coded map

Also called a thematic map, it displays geographic areas according to specific values. For example, it could be a map showing census tracts in different colors according to median household income. Light green would represent lower income, medium green would represent a higher income level, and dark green would represent the highest level. A map of drive times is another example of this kind of map.

Congressional districts (CDs)

Congressional districts are the areas from which individuals are elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Once the apportionment of congressional seats is made based on census population counts within a state, then each state will establish CDs to elect representatives. A congressional district is uniquely identified using a two-digit state FIPS code and two-digit CD FIPS code.

Consumer Expenditure (CEX) data

This comprehensive database, developed by Esri, is based on a combination of the latest Consumer Expenditure Surveys (CEX) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Esri's Tapestry Segmentation Data. Data is reported by product or service and includes total expenditures, average spending per household, and a Spending Potential Index (SPI). See Consumer Spending Methodology Statement.

Core Based Statistical Area (CBSA)

Core Based Statistical Areas, which include metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas, are comprised of one or more counties and are defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB). A metropolitan statistical area is affiliated with at least one urbanized area of 50,000 or more inhabitants. A micropolitan statistical area is associated with at least one urban cluster of at least 10,000 people, but less than 50,000.


Counties are the primary legal divisions of a state, identified by a two-digit state FIPS code and a three-digit county FIPS code. See FIPS Code.

County subdivisions (CSDs)

County subdivisions are the primary divisions of counties, and include census county divisions (CCDs), minor civil divisions (MCDs), census subareas, and unorganized territories. CSDs can be uniquely identified using a two-digit state FIPS code, three-digit county FIPS code, and five-digit CSD FIPS code.

Customer market analysis

A type of analysis that uses mostly customer data.

Customer profiling

A process that establishes a demographic profile of a set of customers by tagging them with demographic values of the geographic area they fall within.

Customer prospecting

A type of analysis that locates regions with ideal demographic characteristics for targeting new customers.

Demographic data

The Esri Updated Demographic data includes current-year estimates and five-year projections for key demographic data. With the exception of the Tapestry Segmentation data, which is not available at the block group level of geography in the standard product, all data is available at census block group, census tract, county, state, U.S., CBSA, DMA, and ZIP Code levels of geography.


The statistical characteristics of a population—income, education, race, homeownership, and so on.

Designated Market Area (DMA)

Designated Market Areas are television markets defined by The Nielsen Company, revised on an annual basis. The majority of DMAs are comprised of one or more whole counties, although a few include parts of counties.

Diversity Index

The Diversity Index summarizes racial and ethnic diversity. The index shows the likelihood that two persons, chosen at random from the same area, belong to different race or ethnic groups. The index ranges from 0 (no diversity) to 100 (complete diversity). For example, a diversity index of 59 means there is a 59 percent probability that two people randomly chosen would belong to different race or ethnic groups.

Drive time

These are areas defined by distance that can be driven away from a site location within a specified time (in minutes) assuming posted speed limits for the road network. Drive-time polygons (shapes) take into account barriers such as mountains, rivers, bridges, or highways under normal traffic conditions. You can choose up to 300 minutes or 300 miles of drive time to the specified location.

Equal interval classification method

A classification method in which each class has an equal range of values. Use this if your data is evenly distributed and you want to emphasize the difference in values between features.


Households in which one or more persons in the household are related to the householder (formerly, the head of the household) by birth, marriage or adoption. The Census tabulates only one family per household.


Store sites, customer locations, streets, census tracts, and ZIP Codes are examples of map features.


Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) for numeric codes used to identify states and counties.

Hispanic origin

Defined by self-identification, Hispanic origin refers to ethnicity, not race. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.

Home Value

The estimate of value is presented for total owner-occupied units. For a discussion of home value projections, see the Update Methodology.

Median Home Value

This estimate divides the distribution of home value into two equal parts. Linear interpolation is used if the median home value falls below $1,000,000. If the median falls in the upper home value interval of $1,000,000+, it is represented by $1,000,001.


A household is an occupied housing unit. Household type is identified by the presence of relatives and the number of persons living in the household. Family households, with or without children, include married couples and other families—a male or female householder with no spouse present. Nonfamily households may be a group of unrelated persons or a single person living alone.

Average Household Size

Average household size is calculated by dividing the number of persons in households by the number of households.

Household Income

See Income.

Household Income Base

This is the sum of the household income distribution.


Income amounts are expressed in current dollars, including an adjustment for inflation or cost-of-living increases. For a discussion of income projections, see the Esri Demographic Update Methodology Statement.

Median Household Income

This is the value that divides the distribution of household income into two equal parts. Pareto interpolation is used if the median falls in an income interval other than the first or last. For the lowest interval, < $10,000, linear interpolation is used. If the median falls in the upper income interval of $500,000+, it is represented by the value of $500,001.

Per Capita Income

This is the average income for all persons calculated from the aggregate income of persons 15 years and older.


An index is the ratio of a local percent (rate) to a U.S. percent (rate) or other base.

Market Area

An area of people who are likely to purchase your goods or services. Market areas can be determined by the number of customers and any other information about them. For example, for a coffee shop, the market area may be the number of college students within three miles of a store location.

Manual classification method

A classification method in which you decide how many values are in each class.


This is a value that divides a distribution into two equal parts. A median is a positional measure that is unaffected by extremely high or low values in a distribution that may affect an average.

Median Age

See Age.

Median Home Value

See Home Value.

Median Household Income

See Income.

Per Capita Income

See Income.

Places (Cities and Towns)

Places include incorporated places (usually cities, towns, villages or boroughs), census designated places, and balance portions of consolidated cities. Places are uniquely identified using a two-digit state FIPS code and five-digit place FIPS code.


A polygon is a hand-drawn area on a map. Draw a polygon to define a study area rather than use a census tract, county, state, or ZIP Code area.


This is the total number of residents in an area. Residence refers to the "usual place" where a person lives, which is not necessarily the legal residence. For example, college students are counted where they attend school.

Quantile classification method

A classification method in which each class has roughly the same number of features. Use this method if your data is evenly distributed and you want to emphasize the difference in relative position between features.


Defined by self-identification, race detail from Census 2000 was expanded to include a multiracial component. For the first time, each individual could report up to six race categories, resulting in 63 possible race combinations. The six basic race categories are White, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaskan Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and "some other" race for persons who do not identify with one of the specified groups.


Rings define study areas around a center point, such as a store location, but the values in the rings are cumulative and overlap. For example, if you had 5-, 10-, and 15-mile rings around a location with 10 households in each, the total number of households in the 5-mile ring would be 10; in the 10-mile ring, it would be 20; and in the 15-mile ring, it would be 30.


Segmentation explains customer diversity, simplifies marketing campaigns, describes lifestyle and lifestage, and incorporates a wide variety of data. See Esri Tapestry Segmentation Reference Guide.


A vector data (points, lines, or polygons) storage format for storing the location, shape, and attributes of geographic features. A shapefile is stored in a set of related files and contains one feature class.

Shopping Center data

Directory of Major Malls tracks information on over 4,000 major shopping centers and malls across the United States. The file used in Business Analyst includes all shopping centers with a gross leasable area (GLA) of approximately 225,000+ square feet. Lifestyle/Specialty centers of any size are also included in this file, as this classification of centers has recently become a primary focus in shopping center development. In addition, the data in Business Analyst contains the data for up to four anchor stores.


A site can be defined by rings, donuts, drive-time polygons, or hand-drawn shapes. You can also use standard geographic units such as the entire United States or a single state, congressional district, county, county subdivision, place, ZIP Code, or census tract. You can use any combination of these to provide a side-by-side comparison of a specific site to the region in which it is located.

Site prospecting

Run reports on a site to evaluate its potential.


States are identified by a two-digit FIPS Code. The District of Columbia is included as a state-equivalent area in the Esri database. See FIPS Code.

Street data

Nationwide detailed street maps with supporting basemap data. See the Data table for update frequency.

Tapestry Segmentation data

Esri's Tapestry Segmentation system provides an accurate, detailed description of America's neighborhoods. U.S. residential areas are divided into 65 segments based on demographic variables such as age, income, home value, occupation, household type, education, and other consumer behavior characteristics.

Thematic map

Also called a color-coded map, it displays study areas according to specific values. For example, it could be a map showing census tracts in different colors according to median household income. Light green would represent lower income, medium green would represent a higher income level, and dark green would represent the highest level. A map of drive times is another example of this kind of map.

Walk time

These areas follow paths and roads that allow pedestrian traffic and finds solutions that optimize travel time. The walking speed is set to 5 kilometers per hour.

ZIP Code

Created by the U.S. Postal Service to deliver the mail, ZIP Codes do not represent standard census geographic areas for data reporting. Because ZIP Code boundaries are not contiguous with census geographic areas or stable over time, data estimated for ZIP Codes are also subject to change.