Forecasts for Communities: Data-Driven Population Projections

2022 NACo Achievement Award Winner

Chesterfield County, Va., VA

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About the Program

Category: Planning (Best in Category)

Year: 2022

Forecasts for Communities utilizes census demographics and real estate housing trends to understand future service needs for our residents, businesses, and visitors. Aligned with the Capital Improvement Program, the team evaluated forecasts for Parks & Recreation and the Public Library. The cross functional team included Deputy County Administrators; Budget, Parks, and Library Directors and subject matter experts; technology leaders and staff; and data engineers and data scientists from Catapult Systems, a Microsoft Gold Partner. The team started exploring Parks and Library data sources but quickly realizes the quality and completeness was not useful for machine learning algorithms to predict the future. As service delivery for both organizations is based on population the team shifted to predicting population utilizing the Chesterfield Real Estate data combined with census demographic data. Previously, the Comprehensive Planning unit has forecasted population at a county-at-large basis. Our approach utilizes a scientific model to generate custom geographical clusters and use a proxy of housing unit bedrooms. This approach was reviewed with the UVA Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service Demographics Research Group who informed us of quality concerns with the 2020 census data at the census block level.