Statistics spruces online census for 2011

Contracts awarded as Statistics gears up for online push

Datacom has gained two five-figure contracts for work on the online interface for census information, as Statistics New Zealand ramps up to the next census in 2011.

However, the main contract for managing online input and digital processing for the census will be announced this month. Statistics has chosen a preferred supplier, says census development manager Sarah Minson, but some negotiation remains to be done.

As in 2006, the online interface will allow individuals and households to submit their census data through an on-screen form and a secure internet connection.

Datacom has been engaged for application maintenance on the Internet Collection System, as the online system is formally known, and for changes to “entry and exit flow” for the ICS.

These projects respectively cover slight changes to the census forms and a simplifying of the sequence of screens that members of the public will see when entering their data, Minson says.

Datacom was responsible for the internet component of the 2006 Census, the first time online submission of data was allowed. More than 7 percent of the population took advantage of the opportunity then; the rest stuck with the paper forms.

Statistics staff said they had deliberately not mounted a major publicity effort to avoid a heavy load on the system.

The online option in 2011 will be more extensively promoted, says Minson.

One reason for keeping a low profile last time was caution about the quality of telco digital infrastructure, she says; but this now appears much improved and the success of the 2006 exercise has raised confidence.

The dress rehearsal, which aims at testing “end-to-end system and business process functionality”, will take place on March 9, 2010 and will involve a randomly selected sample of about 8000 households, some of which will enter data online. Census Day itself will be on March 8, 2011.

A preliminary test, involving approximately 1250 households in the Canterbury region, took place in March this year.

It aimed to trial “parts of the process which have been refined”, including the internet interface, says Statistics.

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