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Census Bureau makes quiz app out of Census data

TO GO WITH STORY 'Japan-Line-US-IT-telecom-smartphones,FOCUS' BY KYOKO HASEGAWA A man uses a sticky service of Japan's smartphone based social networking service (SNS) 'Line' in Tokyo on August 3, 2014. A messaging app launched in the aftermath of Japan's 2011 earthquake and tsunami, Line is moving towards a possible dual listing in Tokyo and New York as it jostles for space in an increasingly crowded and imaginative market. AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. Census Bureau on Wednesday released a new smartphone app that lets people take quizzes about their knowledge of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

"Census PoP Quiz" is a free app, and Census says its goal is to "raise statistical literacy about the U.S. population."

Now you can quiz yourself about the precise demographics of various U.S. states on your smartphone, if you wish. AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO

"Census PoP Quiz provides an introduction to the statistics that define our growing, changing nation and is  a great way for everyone to learn facts about all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the nation in a fun, relevant way," Census said Wednesday.

Information used in the survey comes from the American Community Survey, an annual poll that Census distributes to a few thousand households each year.

Republicans have attacked this survey over the last few years as an unneeded intrusion into people's privacy. For example, the survey asks whether homeowners have mental problems or have difficulty bathing, and whether they have flush toilets in the house.

The GOP has also noted that failure to fill out the ACS can result in a $5,000 fine. In 2012, Republicans in the House and Senate proposed language that would make the annual survey voluntary, but it never became law.

Supporters of the annual survey have said it provides companies with prized demographic information about the country that helps them with their marketing efforts.

The new quiz app from Census indicates a new decision to use the information for a more whimsical purpose. Census said Wednesday that people who use the new PoP Quiz app can earn badges to "show their knowledge of various state demographic characteristics," and that earning a badge in every state will "unlock the final U.S. challenge."

The questions are fairly difficult: the first question relating to Massachusetts asks, "How many female workers in Massachusetts have computer and mathematical occupations?" Quiz takers are given several possible options — the answer is 31,362.

New York's first question is, "How many English-speaking people in New York speak Arabic at home?" The answer is, 83,929.

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