Bureaus ferret out stats; FEMA tracks storms

The Commerce and Labor departments have launched a joint Web page that features a search tool to let users access and manipulate large demographic and economic data sets. Point your browser to ferret.bls.census.gov/cgi-bin/ferret to access the Federal Electronic Research and Review Extraction Tool which features data generated by Commerce's Census Bureau and Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

FERRET will be one of the tools in Census' Data Access and Dissemination System which when completed in time for the 2000 census will provide better access to all census data. FERRET was developed to provide one-stop access to statistics from Census' Current Population Survey and the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). CPS is a survey of about 50 000 households that the bureau conducts for BLS to estimate employment and unemployment figures. It also includes periodic supplements covering a range of topics such as income and poverty health insurance coverage and school enrollment. With SIPP a survey of about 37 000 households the bureau collects data monthly on sources of income participation in government-assistance programs and various aspects of economic well-being. Officials plan to post access soon to SIPP via the Web site.

Other future topics that will be available on FERRET include employment health care education race and ethnicity health insurance housing income and poverty aging and marriage and family.

Users now can access raw data from either the 1995 or 1996 March CPS supplement or data generated from the 1996 displaced-workers supplement listed as options at the top portion of the page.

Or policy-makers and other government users can click on the option listed at the lower portion of the page to create their own tables of extracted customized data files. As part of this option users can create cross tabulations frequency tables or ASCII output files from which data can be input into a spreadsheet.

Tracking Storms On-LineThe beginning of June marked the official start of the 1997 hurricane season. To prepare for the eventual onslaught of violent storms the Federal Emergency Management Agency unveiled last month its annual Tropical Storm Watch page. Point your browser to www.fema.gov to access the 2-year-old storm-watch page which has proven to be popular with users who live in the typical paths hurricanes take. The site logged 400 000 hits Sept. 5 1996 the day Hurricane Fran made landfall in North Carolina according to FEMA officials.

This year the page features a map detailing the probability and magnitude of hurricanes making landfall as well as other predictions for the 1997 hurricane season. It also details the 10 costliest hurricanes for FEMA disaster relief and lists names for this year's crop of hurricanes. As a hurricane develops users can click on "advisories" to track a storm's latest movement and to access links to other Web sites that have pertinent information. For example on June 2 the National Hurricane Center issued advisories on Tropical Storm Andres which was about 455 miles south-southeast of Acapulco Mexico. The NHC predicted the storm would make landfall in Guatemala. The section also included forecasts of the locations of the storm along with maximum winds that may accompany it at specific locations.

The site also features a disaster-relief locator with the current status of FEMA disaster-relief efforts and a hurricane archive to allow users to search a reference library detailing the history of hurricanes that hit land in 1995 or 1996.

Tap Into Emergency TrainingTo follow President Clinton's recent order requiring federal agencies to begin providing the public with increased access to educational materials FEMA has posted to its Web page its on-line card catalog with bibliographic access to its collection of more than 50 000 books reports periodicals and audiovisual materials on fire service and emergency management topics.

While the full text of the materials will not be available via the catalog located at www.lrc.fema.gov the catalog will provide users with the opportunity to survey the holdings of the FEMA National Emergency Training Center's Learning Resource Center.

The resource center is the on-campus library for staff and students of the National Fire Academy and the Emergency Management Institute. Visitors to FEMA's Web site can search by specific title or by subject terms. The new service also will allow users to determine if a specific publication is available via interlibrary loans through local libraries nationwide.


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