Census Bureau Tests Handheld Computers In Southwest Georgia
U.S. Census Bureau workers traded pencils and clipboards for handheld computers in April as part of the next phase of its 2004 Census Test in Georgia’s Colquitt, Thomas and Tift counties.
During the nonresponse follow-up operation, census workers used the handheld computers to collect information from households that did not return their questionnaires by mail. The enumerators entered respondents’ answers to the census test questions in the computers and submited completed questionnaires electronically to Census Bureau headquarters in Suitland, Md.
Using these methods is designed not only to improve productivity, but also to reduce the high cost of paper questionnaires in the follow-up phase
“The biggest change in how we conduct this part of the test is the use of the handheld computers,” said Atlanta Regional Director James F. Holmes.”The census workers visiting homes will not have paper maps, paper lists or paper questionnaires.”
The Census Bureau will apply security measures such as electronic barriers, encryption and dedicated telephone lines to protect respondents’ information. In addition, every Census Bureau worker takes an oath of confidentiality. If a census worker shares information that could identify a person or household with anyone outside the Census Bureau, that worker faces a maximum of five years in jail and a $250,000 fine.