Census hopes mobile approach works in 2020

WHAT: The U.S. Census Bureau is looking for a mobile solution for its army of enumerators.

WHY: The Census Bureau is gearing up for the massive 2020 count, and has pledged to cut costs and avoid the IT contracting mistakes that afflicted the 2010 decennial census.

The bureau is in the midst of planning and testing more Internet-based response options for U.S. residents, and hoping to leverage mobile technology to make the follow-up field work operate more efficiently and deliver a more accurate count.

In a request for information issued in late June, the Census announced it was seeking a single vendor to supply mobile devices and support for enumerators in the field collecting information from households that haven't supplied a self-response to their Census mailing. Per the RFI, the Census is seeking feedback from industry on devices to be used in an upcoming 2016 test of its Nonresponse Follow-up operation.

It does not appear that the bureau is committing as yet to a single mobile strategy. In public meetings and congressional hearings, Census officials have stated that they were considering either government-issued devices or bring-your-own device solutions for field workers in 2020. A RFI issued in December 2014 sought developers for applications that could run securely on employee devices.

For the 2016 test, the Census is seeking a vendor to supply devices, peripherals, service plans, activation, and inventory management and support. The device needs to work as a phone, handle group messages, use GPS for accurate location tracking, and be able to run the Census-developed data collection application which is compatible with Android and iOS devices. Field staff may also need to communicate using IP-based video messaging services such as Google Hangouts, Skype or other apps. The devices must also support a suite of Google applications including Maps, YouTube, and the Chrome browser, as well as virtual private network software.

The Census is taking industry responses through July 9. Click here to read the full RFI.

Posted by Adam Mazmanian on Jul 07, 2015 at 9:55 AM


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