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New Technologies in Census Geographic Listing


This Select Topics in International Censuses brief will provide national statistical offices (NSOs) with focused information about technologies for census geographic listing operations that have matured in the past ten years. Geographic listing strongly affects subsequent census operations. During the listing operation, census workers identify dwelling units and list households within the census area, which is usually the entire country. Traditionally, when census workers performed this count using pencil and paper, they created pictographic (sketch) maps for use during the full population and housing enumeration. Leading into the 2000 census round, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software became widely available on desktop computers with user-friendly graphical interfaces. However, it was during the 2010 census round (2005–2014) that many NSOs transitioned from paper maps to digital. The transition from paper to digital maps involves the digitization of enumeration area boundaries as represented on sketch maps. These sketch maps must also portray physical boundaries for proper digitization. Physical features in digital format that correspond to those represented in the sketch maps are then used to rebuild enumeration area boundaries. During the 2010 census round, many NSOs also began researching and implementing solutions using enterprise GIS, satellite imagery analysis, and Global Positioning System (GPS)-enabled handheld devices. However, cost and complexity formed significant barriers to widespread adoption. For the 2020 census round, NSOs will increasingly adopt these technologies for census operations.


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