FedTech Magazine: Census Goes All Digital with Door-to-Door Field Operations

“As April 1 of last year approached — the day on which all census information is based — the bureau was ready to go.

Then history got in the way. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the door-to-door field operations for two months, dozens of massive wildfires across the western states kept workers away from endangered communities, social unrest caused unease in some neighborhoods and a record-breaking hurricane season hampered the count in the Gulf region.

Yet the efficiencies gained from all the technology allowed the census to reach its goal of counting 99.9 percent of households by its new Oct. 15 deadline, just two and a half months after the original one…”

“In the end, 67 percent of U.S. residents responded to the census online, on the phone or through mail. That meant the enumerators were tasked with visiting 64 million households to capture the remaining 33 percent of households.

The iPhones worked exactly as the Census Bureau had planned. Every morning, the part-time, temporary workers accessed a set of integrated Census Bureau apps. They’d update the hours they could work over the next five days and then download their day’s assignments. Mapping software provided them the most efficient route to each household.

‘The software would automatically give them the assignments for the day that were tailored not only for their schedule, but the likelihood — based on sophisticated modeling of the addresses — that they would be home,’ [Michael Thieme Assistant Director for Decennial Census Programs, Systems and Contracts, U.S. Census Bureau] says…”

“‘That was one of the reasons we were able to get through the census with all the things that were thrown at it,’ he says. ‘Device as a Service was really critical for the nonresponse follow-up, which is the biggest operation of the census. It’s the technology centerpiece of our ability to get the census done in the field.’…” Read the full article here.

Source: Census Goes All Digital with Door-to-Door Field Operations – By Wylie Wong, May 11, 2021. FedTech Magazine.

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