The eCensus: an internet challenge, Jul 2003

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The eCensus: an internet challenge

Responding to the rapid up-take of technology, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is seeking Expressions of Interest from IT specialists to develop the Australian eCensus Internet form for the next Census of Population and Housing in 2006.

The ABS wants an industry partner with the experience and expertise to help develop the complete eCensus solution, covering form development and provision of infrastructure (including hardware and communications).

Key eCensus challenges to face the successful tenderer include:
  • A "one shot" chance - the system must meet the requirements of the Australian public on Census night (August 8, 2006);
  • Security - maintaining security of the data during the entire process, so that only the respondent and the ABS have access to the data;
  • High load issues - potentially one million households completing their forms via the Internet on Census night;
  • System integration - compatibility with census processing and field communication systems; and
  • Accessibility - making the form accessible to people with the lowest standard of Internet connection and those with disabilities such as vision impairment.

Census Development Director, David Nauenburg, said that the ABS wanted to attract high performing organisations that saw the opportunity to share in this historic move into the electronic age of large scale census collections.

"The winning organisation will provide the most effective eCensus solution, which will be reliable, high quality and a secure option for the community," he said.

"The aim of the eCensus is to give the public the choice of completing the 2006 Census form on the Internet. We are not getting rid of the traditional paper form, it will still be available to the public in 2006.

"For the ABS, the eCensus has the potential to improve data collection. This is especially true where our collectors face challenges in collecting completed forms, like secure apartment buildings and in rural Australia.

"Ultimately, an efficient collection method leads to faster processing and this means the community and decision-makers have access to the results earlier.

"The Census is the largest collection the ABS undertakes and the eCensus is an exciting challenge for 2006."