Cyber census possible in five years

This year's census will ask about internet access, but the statistics won't be gathered in cyberspace for a while yet.

This year's census will ask about internet access, but the statistics won't be gathered in cyberspace for a while yet.

Government statistician Brian Pink says online participation won't be possible in this year’s survey, to be held on March 6, but by the time of the next census, in five years, this should be possible.

“We recognise that by that time there will have to be provision as a proportion of the community would want to do online. Responding online is easy but managing it overall has some implications. For example, how do you ensure that people only take part once? There is also a whole range of security issues that have to be thought through.”

Pink says Statistics New Zealand will be working through the issues over the next 18 months and will then be conducting a pilot. He says the department will probably go to the market for a solution in the next two to three years.

Meanwhile, this census will be the first to provide official statistics on how many Kiwi households have internet access and use faxes. Question 16 of the census will ask whether dwellings have access to a telephone, cellphone, fax or the internet.

The first provisional results on populations and dwellings for this year’s census will be out in May though the full census database won’t be available until February 2002.

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