Census to use PeopleSoft in test

The company's software will be part of a 2006 field test for the next census.

Census Bureau

Census Bureau officials will use PeopleSoft Inc. software to help interviewers in the field collect household data through handheld devices in a test leading up to the 2010 census, company officials said.

Bruce Triner, vice president of federal operations for PeopleSoft, said government officials plan to buy the company's Enterprise PeopleTools and Mobile Agent software products for the 2006 test. Census takers would use handheld devices to upload information to a central database every day or even more frequently, Triner said.

The Enterprise PeopleTools software is an application development suite used to add functionality to PeopleSoft applications, he said. Mobile Agent technology will allow the field interviewers, or enumerators, to collect and upload information.

In preparing for the 2010 census, bureau officials are equipping enumerators with personal digital assistants that include Global Positioning System hardware and may include a 56 kilobits/sec modem for the 2006 test, according to a needs statement this summer. Bureau officials want increased technology usage in the field as a way to reduce paper, workload and costs and improve data quality.

As PeopleSoft migrated applications from a client/server environment to an Internet-centric one, it was able to shrink the requirements for running on small platforms, Triner said.

"Those platforms include today anything down to and including a cell phone," he said. "I'm not suggesting you can get enterprise [human resources] or enterprise financials on your cell phone, but you can interface with the base applications and you can indeed do some real processing on some of the handheld devices."

In addition to using the PeopleSoft software for collecting demographic information, Triner said, bureau officials can capture time and attendance information from enumerators, who are temporary employees. The bureau is a longtime user of PeopleSoft, and officials are upgrading the human resources management system with a new version of the company's software, Triner said.

The test will eventually lead to a full and open for creating a technology backbone for the decennial census, Triner said. The census 2010 initiative would involve a significant increase in the application of new technology to what is a rather rote process, he said.

"They've never had the capability of providing this level of information to that many people who are both centrally located and remote through mobile technologies," he said. "As things start to converge with new technologies, you have the cell phones, you have the PDAs, you have the integrated combinations, and you have the [Research in Motion Ltd.] BlackBerries and the like. What we're looking at is the technology that will allow continued interface between those types of capabilities and your high-end [enterprise resource planning] systems."

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