2020 US Census Will Be Digital, Finally Catch Up To 21st Century Tech

The 2020 US Census will be the first nationwide data collection tool to go fully digital. The move will mean government workers will not be required to hire thousands of temporary workers who travel from door-to-door in the hopes of finding people at home and collecting their personal and family information.250,000 homes per month are already being offered access to a census type option as part of the American Community Survey. According to that programs directors, more than half of respondents have already filled out the survey online with the help of a personally mailed PIN number.

The Census Bureau believes that by 2020 the internet, smartphones, and other yet to be developed technologies will eliminate the need for low tech paper collection facilities.

In 2010, the Census Bureau spent $96 per household in collecting census information. That cost per household data collection was up from $39 per household in 1990 and $70 in 2000.According to the Washington Post, as the US population has become more diverse, questionnaires have had to be rewritten in numerous languages. Fewer Americans have also been willing to answer Census questions, which has made data collection that much harder.

Congress, not happy with increasing census data collection costs, has demanded that the Census Bureau stabilize per household costs.

The American Community Survey was developed after numerous tests over a two year period. The Census Bureau believes its tweaking of that system will allow for far superior data collection in seven years.

At this time, households still receive an old-fashioned letter mailed to their home alongside a notice that a questionnaire is on its way. Citizens then receive a second letter that explains how they can take advantage of online survey taking. If the household doesn’t take advantage of the online survey option, they are mailed a 28-page paper form several weeks later.

Users who choose the web page option can complete the survey in about 40 minutes. The survey includes 24 questions about housing and 48 questions about every household resident.

Do you think more government programs should begin ditching paper requests in place of online options?