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The Census Bureau has long used traditional mail-out/mail-back methods to conduct surveys. Questionnaires are mailed to respondents, who complete them and mail them back. The data is then keyed into a computer file for further processing. The Paperless Fax Image Reporting System (PFIRS) was conceived as a system whereby respondents could return their completed questionnaires via facsimile. Data on the fax images would then be automatically interpreted through intelligent character recognition (ICR) and converted to ASCII output.
This paper discusses our experiences with a prototype system based on off-the-shelf software, and how well
the prototype met the technical and functional requirements, what problems we had, etc.