The Geolytic Census Products repackage Census data in a way that makes it comparatively easy to extract the data. It also prepares the data for thematic maps, obviating the neeed for doing a separate data extraction from the Census and then using a GIS program such as ArcGIS to produce maps. The maps themselves are very basic and will probably require reworking in a GIS for best effect.
An important feature of Geolytics is that it alone makes data available in electronic form from the 1970 and 1980 Censuses. American Factifinder only covers 2000 and 1990. Geolytics coverage of 1990 is more powerful in some ways: for one thing you can create custom tables, a feature not available from American FactFinder for 1990.
The Geolytics Census products come with built-in data viewing and exporting capabilities as well as thematic color mapping capabilites. Users can extract data as .dbfs, text, etc. The program also can produce shape files which can be used in other GIS programs.
The Geolytics interface enables users to search for and select the data they're interested in. They can customize reports down to the block group level (and for products that specifically include them, the block level). Users can create and map their own computed fields from the data. For example: percentages and sums of particular groups.
Another strength is that Geolytics offers the so called "Normalized data": as geographic boundaries change over time, the product line adjusts for these changes to allow for comparisons of census data from 1970, 1980, 1990 and 2000 census in either the 2000 or the 2010 boundaries.
An important change is that besides on CD-ROM now the Geolytics products are also available online for subscribers. Cornell University Library purchased the online license and soon will be able to use the site.
One weakness of the Geolytic product is the limited number of geographies available in many of the sets (as opposed to American FactFinder). No Metropolitan Statistical Areas, Congressional Districts, Tribal Areas, Urbanized Areas, etc., except in some special cases . The 2000 discs do have Zip Code areas which can be very useful to marketers.
The disks are housed in the Electronic Text Center in Olin Library in call number order. The guides, very slender pamphlet-bound volumes, are on the guide shelf, also in call number order. The guides have also been copied and organized in a large three-ring binder.
The disks will run on the remaining ETC computers. The start-up shortcuts are in the "ETC Databases" folder on the desktops of both computers.
Please note that the Geolytics CD-ROMS do not work in Windows 7 or later.
The organization of the data varies from census to census and different years offer different search options. The guides are poorly written and confusing. There is more help online at the Geolytics site .