Click here to return to the Home Page Click here to send an email message to Percept customer support
Home | Company | Products | Support |  
Data Sources
Document Index
US Lifestyles Segments

A custom unit of geography for mission planning
How are PeopleAreas created?
The steps in the development of a PeopleArea are outlined in the following graphics.
Step 1
Divide study into Small Grid Squares and compute the population for each
Create1_200.gif (15052 bytes)
Step 2
Combine neighboring grid squares into Potential PeopleArea Circles
Create2_200.gif (10299 bytes)
Step 3
Select PeopleAreas for Maximum Population Coverage in fewest number of full circles
Create3_200.gif (11330 bytes)
PeopleAreas can be created in any size area from a community to the US and can vary dramatically in size from a 1/4 mile radius up to a 15-mile radius. The actual size of a PeopleArea is based upon how the information will be applied. Or to put it according to PERCEPT'S Information Principle: What are the questions that need to be answered?
Four Levels of PeopleArea
Currently, four different sizes of PeopleArea can be created, each to serve a different level of focus.
Radius Size: 8 to 20 mile radius, usually 15
Square Mileage: 200 to 1,250, usually 700 square miles
Purpose: To help develop strategy over an extremely large area such as the entire United States. The first layer in a coordinated and integrated national to regional to local strategy.
Maximum Area: The contiguous 48 states of the United States (3 million square miles, 2,000 geography units)
Minimum Area: Two or three average sized states, or one really large state. (100,000 square miles, 100 geography units)
Radius Size: 3 to 7 mile radius, usually 5
Square Mileage: 28 to 150, usually 78 square miles
Purpose: Primary community planning units. Large enough to define a community-wide strategic planning effort, but small enough to distinguish local community character. Designed for use from multiple counties up to several states. Generally, create 5 to 10 times the detail of an RA.
Maximum Area: Two or three average states, or one really large state. (200,000 square miles, 500 geography units)
Minimum Area: Two or three average counties, or one really large county. (3,000 square miles, 100 geography units)
Radius Size: 1.5 to 2.5 mile radius, usually 2
Square Mileage: 7 to 19, usually 12 square miles
Purpose: To further refine understanding of a more targeted area such as a county or major metropolitan area. Generally, create 5 to 10 times the detail of an ImagineArea.
Maximum Area: Two or three average counties, or one really large county. (2000 square miles, 150 geography units)
Minimum Area: Two or three contiguous 5 mile radii circles. (300 square miles, 40 geography units)
Radius Size: .25 to .75 mile, usually .5
Square Mileage: .2 to 1.75, usually .78 square miles
Purpose: To support specific local strategies which are not only sensitive to the larger community, but take into account particular neighborhood attributes. Generally, 10 times as detailed as FocalAreas and 50 to 100 times as detailed as an ImagineArea.
Maximum Area: Two or three contiguous 5 mile radii circles (300 square miles, 150 units)
Minimum Area: One 5 mile radius circle. (78 square miles, 25 geographic units)
Ultimately, once PeopleAreas have been created, PopNet technology allows any geographically-oriented information such as census data or church locations to be computed for and analyzed within each individual PeopleArea.
  Special PeopleAreas
Normally, the goal of PeopleArea creation is to encompass 95% of the population within the study area inside the PeopleAreas. PeopleAreas are not allowed to overlap one another.
There is a special circumstance that can occur near the boundaries of the study area. Occasionally, the most optimal location for a PeopleArea may be centered very close to the boundary of your study area. In fact, some of the population for the PeopleArea may actually reside in a neighboring area outside of your boundary. These are referred to as Boundary PeopleAreas and are identified with a "(b)" after the People Identification Number. There are two rules which govern these special situations:
Boundary PeopleAreas may contain some population from outside region, but it must always be less than 50% of the total population in the PeopleArea.
The centerpoint of the PeopleArea must always be found inside the study area boundary.
PeopleArea Flexing
  What happens when several PeopleAreas cluster together? Multiple circles can create gaps. How is this handled so that people and population centers are not lost? Percept has developed a technique called flexing to address this problem.
Flexing means that a PeopleArea can both shrink and bulge within very tight limits to accommodate the fact that people do not always live in clean circular population centers. The result is that PeopleAreas may become slightly less than a perfectly full and complete circle.
One important outcome of this technique is the virtual removal of partial PeopleAreas caused when a gap opens between PeopleArea circles. It is possible that even flexing will not completely remove partials in unusual population areas, but the prospect is remote with flexing.
The flexing technique also tends to represent the same relative geographic area, even if not in perfectly round circles. Consequently, the goal of inter geography comparability is maintained. Though the shape may be slightly distorted, the geographic area is basically the same.
How PeopleAreas are Identified
PeopleAreas are assigned a unique identification number at the time of their creation. The numbers always begin with 1 and continue until all PeopleAreas have been assigned a number. ID Numbers serve dual purposes of identification and projected population ranking; i.e., PeopleArea Number 1 is also the most populated PeopleArea. Occasionally, a PeopleArea may have the characters "(b)" appended to the number which indicates that some of the population in that PeopleArea resides outside the boundary of your study area.
Since the numbers alone do not initially provide geographical orientation, a Direction Finder is also provided for all PeopleArea types except NeighborAreas. The Direction Finder is a short phrase that is temporarily assigned to each PeopleArea to make it easier to get started working with the PeopleAreas. Direction Finders are not intended to represent official names for either the PeopleArea or the geographical area represented by the PeopleArea. They are based upon the 1990 US Census Place Centroid File and may not reflect local naming conventions or recent developments. Later in the planning process, you will be able to assign official working names to each PeopleArea. NeighborAreas are generally too numerous and small to use city-based naming scheme (since a single city name might have to be used for dozens of NeighborAreas).
PeopleArea 2' x 3' Wall Maps
Circular areas identify where most people are located