Census

Puerto Rico tabbed as proving ground for 2020 Census tech

Shutterstock editorial image (by Gil C): State Census Bureau homepage.

Before each decennial census, the Census Bureau selects test locations to make sure the data collection will run smoothly.

For the 2020 Census, which will employ an unprecedented scaled of technology, the bureau has selected Puerto Rico as one of those test sites in the lead-up to the primetime operation.

The test will take place at approximately 123,000 housing units across three municipalities within the area of capital city San Juan -- Carolina, Loíza and Trujillo Alto -- and is scheduled to begin April 1, 2017.

This marks the first time Puerto Rico was selected a test site for the census since 1978.

The trial will test the efficiency and effectiveness of new enumeration methodologies that include internet self-response, address canvassing and the bureau's custom mobile application, Compass.

Testing the modes for self-response will sharpen the internet data collection practice, as well as the process of address canvassing, the updating and updating and validating the bureau's address records.

The device-agnostic app registers necessary census information, as well as enumerators' geolocation data. 

Testing in Puerto Rico gives the bureau the chance to debut the multi-lingual data collection capabilities of the app, which currently supports English, Spanish, Korean and Chinese, with the possibility of adding more languages.

In addition to final operational strategies for self-response, the final decision for the languages to be included in the internet self-response will be made in 2018, so the results from the Puerto Rico test will play a significant role in determining if adjustments need to be made.

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a staff writer covering civilian agencies, workforce issues, health IT, open data and innovation.

Prior to joining FCW, Gunter reported for the C-Ville Weekly in Charlottesville, Va., and served as a college sports beat writer for the South Boston (Va.) News and Record. He started at FCW as an editorial fellow before joining the team full-time as a reporter.

Gunter is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where his emphases were English, history and media studies.

Click here for previous articles by Gunter, or connect with him on Twitter: @WChaseGunter

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