IBM online for eCensus
IBM Global Services has been chosen from a field of more than 30 submissions as the industry partner to develop the eCensus system for the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The tender process began in July of 2003 before the decision was made to award the contract to IBM early in 2005. The system will initially be adopted in the August Dress Rehearsal this year involving some 40,000 households before undergoing further refinement and being used for the 2006 Census.
In addition to developing the internet form itself, IBM will also be providing all the electronic infrastructure for the eCensus. Tests have been conducted within the ABS's own infrastructure to determine how well the electronic process combined with other field systems, returning positive results.
The eCensus presents challenges to the ABS in terms of how well it fits in with the collection control system to ensure everyone is counted in the Census. Part of the solution is to provide every household with a PIN contained within a sealed envelope to provide people with access to the eCensus. Once an electronic form has been submitted, an SMS message will be sent to the relevant census collectors' mobile phone to inform them that paper forms don't need to be collected from that particular household. Any information lodged through the system will be protected by strong data encryption and by a series of firewalls and other security harware once it is received by the ABS.
At this stage the ABS is expecting around 10% of Australians to use these eCensus Internet forms. However this figure is expected to rise in years to come with the eCensus program being described as the "way of the future". In addition to the availability of eCensus forms the traditional paper forms will continue to be delivered to every Australian household.
The ABS is also currently investigating ways to improve the eCensus for 2011 by investigating the likely impact that new and emerging technology will have on the eCensus program.