Q&A: Census Bureau exec describes handheld plan for 2010
The agency has embarked on a $600M plan to automate census data collection
Computerworld - The U.S. Census Bureau signed a contract this week with Harris Corp. for a $600 million project to automate data collection in the 2010 census (see "Census Bureau to deploy a half-million wireless handhelds"). About 500,000 customized pocket-size computers from High Tech Computer Corp. in Taiwan will be deployed to census takers who go door to door. Edwin B. Wagner Jr., project manager for the field data collection automation contract at the Census Bureau, talked to Computerworld today about the effort. Excerpts from that interview follow:
Obviously, handhelds have saved time and improved accuracy for many field forces in recent years. Have you quantified what you expect to save in this project? I cant say the project will save exactly x millions of dollars, but introducing this helps us with data collection. In the 2000 census, we had somewhere in the neighborhood of 35 million nonresponding households, where we didnt receive their census forms by mail. That meant taking out paper questionnaires, and then taking data off the questionnaires later in a separate step. And millions of returns were mailed back to us after workers started making house calls. So, this new automation allows us to update census enumerators with new mail returns via wireless before the worker reaches the house. And, we dont have to process the paper. We will save millions of dollars, no doubt.
On what base? In 2000, we spent $6 billion on the census, for everything, not just data collection. In 2010, its expected to be $11 billion for the entire 10-year cycle.
Why such a large number of handhelds, half a million? Well, we have millions of households to visit, but we also cant wait for the data under legal mandates -- so we put a lot of people on the streets. The census is always held on April 1, by law, and must be finished by Dec. 31 of that year. And then, one year later, on April 1, 2011, were required to deliver all the information to the states for use in redistricting. The process cant wait.
Are the census takers going to use the devices to ask a ton of questions? If so, how might people react to a census taker using a machine? Did you consider how intrusive it might feel to them? Its a short-form questionnaire, only seven questions. Were not really worried about intrusiveness. Its not really any different than holding paper in that sense. People are getting used to it with meter readers using mobile technology and the UPS guy making deliveries. Nothing to my knowledge in our 2004 and 2006 field tests with handhelds shows a problem. Weve tested with 200,000 actual homes in Austin, Texas, two counties in southern Georgia and part of New York City.
- Assessing ROI for Mobile Acceleration Clients This EMA® paper examines the business case for deploying mobile WAN optimization client software and builds a ROI model based on the experiences...
- The Apple-ization of the Enterprise: Understanding IT's New World Read this paper for how to tackle Apple-ization (and the related consumerization of IT and Bring Your Own Device/BYOD).
- A Practical Introduction to Enterprise Mobility Management Read the white paper to better understand the basic concepts within mobility management and to learn how you can apply EMM technology to...
- Enterprise Mobility: A Checklist for Secure Containerization The advantages and disadvantages of the multiple approaches to containerization. Learn More>>
- Live Webcast Best Practices: How to Improve Business Continuity with Virtualization VMware solutions include a range of business continuity capabilities to help ensure availability for applications across your virtualized environment. Learn More>>
- Live Webcast
Transforming Finance, Procurement and Supply Chain Effectiveness with Cross-Functional Analytics
Date: May 6th, 2014
Time: 1 PM EDT
Attend this Webcast to find out how Oracle's packaged analytic applications enable line-of-business managers to examine all...
- Live Webcast LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Mobile Security: Containerizing Enterprise Data In this on-demand webinar, Fixmo's Lee Cocking, VP of corporate strategy, explains why Apple-ization trends like mobility and "bring-your-own-device" (BYOD) are driving the...