Use the data browser

The data browser is an in-app interface that categorizes and displays all the data variables available in ArcGIS Business Analyst. A variable is a demographic measurement represented as a count, percentage, or index value. To learn more about the available data, see Data in Business Analyst.

You can access the data browser within the following Business Analyst workflows:

To explore the data browser independent of a Business Analyst project, visit Esri Demographics.

Browse and select variables

Once you have opened the data browser using one of the workflows above, you can browse available variables in the following way:

  1. Click a category. Use the arrows to scroll through the pages of categories.

    Alternately, you can click Show All or By Source and go to step 3.

  2. Select a popular variable in this category. Alternately, continue browsing by clicking a subcategory or Show all 'Category name' variables and go to the next step.

    To view information about a variable, hover the pointer over Info Info. Click a variable to add it to the Selected variables list. Optionally, you can click Favorite Favorite to mark any variable as a favorite for quick access through the Favorites list, accessible from the main page of the data browser.

  3. Select a variable group from the Variables list or click the Expand arrow Expand next to a group to view the variables inside.
  4. Select variables in accordance with the workflow you are performing. You can choose a calculation method for each variable, displaying the selected variable as a count, percentage, average, index, or reliability estimate. Do any of the following:
    • Smart Map Search—You can add up to five variables. Review the variables in the Selected variables drop-down menu Selected variables. You can remove and adjust variables or save the list for future use. Click Apply.
    • Color-Coded Maps—Select one variable. It is immediately shown on the map.
    • Suitability Analysis—You can add up to 20 variables to create a criteria list. Review the variables in the Selected variables drop-down menu Selected variables. You can remove and adjust variables or save the list for future use. Click Apply.
    • Void Analysis—Select one variable to normalize results by. It is immediately applied to the summary table.
    • Threshold Areas—Select one variable. It is added to the analysis.
    • Build Reports—Drag variables to the report template. You can select multiple variables at one time by pressing the Shift key and clicking the variables.
    • Build Infographics—You can add up to 50 variables. Review the variables in the Selected variables drop-down menu Selected variables. You can remove and adjust variables from the list. Click Next.
    • Comparison Reports—Select a variable to add to Selected variables list. You can remove and adjust variables or save the list for future use. Click Apply.

Search variables

You can search for variables within categories and subcategories or by using keywords. You can do any of the following to search for variables:

  • Search the entire data browser from the main page. In the Search for a variable name, an issue, or an area of interest search field, enter your search terms and press Enter or click the Search button Search.
  • After browsing to a category, you can search inside it. In the Search within the current category search field, enter the search terms and press Enter or click the Search button Search.
  • After browsing to a subcategory or performing an initial search, you can search by keyword in the Refine results pane. In the Enter any keyword search field, enter your search term. Search results filter dynamically as you enter text.

Create and save variable lists

Once you have selected variables, you can save the list for future use in Business Analyst workflows. All saved variables, including variable lists and custom variables, are stored in Saved Variables, accessible from the main page of the data browser.

Saved Variables button

Depending on the workflow you are performing, you can do any of the following to save a variable list:

  • In the Selected variables drop-down menu Selected variables, click Save List. The Save Criteria dialog box appears. Name the list, choose an icon to represent the list, and click Save.
  • In Smart Map Search, click Save List on the main page.
  • When creating a custom comparison report, you can click Save List in the Add Variables window.

Use custom and shared data

If you have added custom data, or others in your organization have shared data with you, it is displayed in separate tabs in the data browser. You can browse, search for, and select variables within the currently selected tab.

You can access data in any of the following tabs:

  • The Standard data tab displays data that comes with Business Analyst Web App.
  • The My data tab displays any custom data you have added.
  • The Data shared with me tab displays data others in your organization have shared with you.

Create a custom variable

The data browser allows you to create variables that focus on a specific type, range, or combination of data. You can create a variable based on age, household income, home value, housing units, or race. Custom variables are stored in your Saved Variables list.

To create a custom variable, do the following:

  1. In the data browser, click Create a custom variable

    The Create Custom Variable dialog box appears.

    Note:

    Consider these factors when creating custom variables.

    • Some variables are not available for creating custom variables, including ACS data variables for U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
    • ACS variables for Puerto Rico are available for creating custom variables. Margins of error for these ACS variables are dropped when they are used to create custom variables.
    • Some custom variables may not be statistically accurate. For example, calculations are not meaningful when combining adult- and household-based variables or when applying the AVG (average) operator to median variables.

  2. Click Age variable, Household income variable, or Other popular variables.
    • If you selected Age variable, choose a year, age range, and gender for the variable.
    • If you selected Household income variable, choose a year and household income range for the variable.
    • If you selected Other popular variables, click the category you want to use. Use the slider handles or check boxes to define the variable.
  3. If you are creating a color-coded map, click Save & Add. If you are using Smart Map Search, click Add.

    The Save Custom Variable dialog box appears.

  4. Create a name for your variable and click Save.

Create an advanced custom variable

You can build a custom variable by selecting variables from different categories and using mathematical operators to combine them. Once created, the custom variable is saved in your Saved Variables list. To create an advanced custom variable, do the following:

  1. In the data browser, click Create a custom variable or browse to a category and click Create your own 'Category' variable.

    The Create Custom Variable dialog box appears.

  2. Click Advanced custom variable.
  3. Browse or search for variables in the data browser.
  4. Add a variable by dragging it into the Assemble your custom variable section or selecting variables and clicking Add Selected Variables.
  5. Select an operator by clicking it. Choose from the following:
    • Standard mathematical operators: + - * / % ^ ( )
    • Add Number—Use a constant number in your custom variable calculation. For example, if you want to multiply a variable by 2, click * and then click Add Number and enter the number 2 in the number field.
    • Add Sum—Calculate the sum of multiple variables. Drag variables into the SUM field. Click OK.
    • Add Average—Calculate the average of multiple variables in your custom variable calculation. Drag variables into the AVG field. Click OK.
  6. Repeat as needed to create an equation for your advanced custom variable. Build mathematical expressions using parentheses. To reorder items, drag variables and operators in the Assemble your custom variable section. To remove an item, hover the pointer over it and click Remove Remove.
  7. When you are done, save your variable. If you are creating a color-coded map, click Save & Add. If you are using Smart Map Search, click Add.
  8. In the Save Custom Variable window, enter a name for your variable and specify the number of decimal places to use for calculation.
  9. Click Save.

    The variable you created is stored in your Saved Variables list in the data browser. You can edit the variable by clicking Edit this variable Edit this variable.

Understand variable calculations

A variable can be displayed as a count, a percentage, an average, an index value, or a reliability estimate. The data browser displays the available calculation options as buttons next to each variable:

Count

If you select Count Count, the analysis shows the estimated count of the variable in the areas defined on the map.

Percentage

If you select Percentage Percentage, the analysis shows the variable as a percentage value rather than a count. The percentage is expressed as a ratio to a base value, such as total households or total population, and multiplied by 100. For example, the percentage value for the variable Households with an Internet Subscription is the number of households with an internet subscription, divided by the total number of households in the area (this is the base value).

You can view the percent base variable by hovering the cursor over the Info button Info.

Average

This option is available for variables in the Consumer Spending database. If you select Average Average, the analysis shows the average amount spent per household annually.

Index

If you select Index Index, the analysis shows an index value indicating how the amount of the variable in the areas defined on the map compares to another value, such as the nationwide average.

There are three types of indices:

  • Index of value—The variable value for the area divided by the variable value for the entire country. For example, the index for Average Household Size is calculated by dividing the Average Household Size value for the specific area by the Average Household Size for the country.
  • Index of percent value—The variable percentage for the area divided by the variable percentage for the entire country. For example, the index of Households that Own 2+ Dogs is calculated by dividing the percentage of Households that Own 2+ Dogs in the specific area by the percentage of Households that Own 2+ Dogs at the country level.
  • Index of average value—The variable average for the area divided by the variable average for the entire country. For example, the index of Health Care Spending is calculated by dividing the average household Health Care Spending in the specific area by the average household Health Care Spending at the country level.

You can view the index type for a variable by hovering the cursor over the Info button Info.

Reliability

This option is available only for American Community Survey variables. If you select Reliability Reliability, the analysis shows Esri's reliability score, which is based on the American Community Survey's margin of error (MOE) information for the data in the areas defined on the map. The reliability score indicates Esri's confidence in the estimate, based on the MOE provided. Reliability scores are: high reliability, medium reliability, and low reliability.