Census

Census announces test plans for 2017, 2018

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The Census Bureau will forge ahead with its plans to tally and mark addresses in fiscal 2017 and with its 2018 tests to ensure that new technologies and methodologies are ready for the decennial census in 2020.

After deciding to call off field tests slated for next year, Census officials announced plans for the upcoming address canvassing tests during its latest quarterly Program Management Review.

Address canvassing entails the enumeration of housing units across the United States. Before the 2020 census, the bureau plans to test new methods that officials hope will save enumerators from physically walking the estimated 11 million blocks and counting the approximately 140 million addresses in the country.

The address canvassing tests will begin this fall in Buncombe County, N.C. (a mix of urban, suburban and rural regions) and parts of St. Louis to offer an assortment of statistical areas. The two test sites will cover a total of roughly 7,500 blocks.

Testers will use geographic information systems and aerial imagery to tally the addresses in those areas and to validate and refine the technologies in advance of the 2020 headcount. Additionally, the collected data will be used to build a Master Address File of all the country's known housing units.

For the 2018 end-to-end test, Census confirmed the sites will be Pierce County, Wash.; Providence County, R.I.; and Bluefield-Beckley-Oak Hill, W.Va. The first step in the 2018 tests will be to open regional census centers on Jan. 3, 2017.

The tests will produce a prototype for geographic and spatial data and be a dry run for Census' new methodologies. They will cover in-field operations, mobile device applications, new questionnaire and postal tracking systems, and the readiness of the Census Enterprise Data Collection and Processing and the Master Address File/Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing systems.

In the quarterly review, the bureau also announced the progress it has made. In fiscal 2016, 993 field representatives collected data on approximately 1 million addresses across 20,000 blocks on schedule and under budget, officials said. Census also tested its new Automated Listing and Mapping Instrument, Regional Office Survey Control and Mobile Case Management systems.

In fiscal 2017, officials plans to further test those systems and increase the number of field representatives to 1,030 to take on another 1 million addresses and 20,000 blocks.

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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