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Brazil Using Smartphones For Planning the Future 115

Posted by timothy
from the emergent-order-too-unreliable dept.
shafiur writes "Brazil has bought 150,000 LG smartphones and has embarked on the world's first fully digital national census. Can they succeed when the US recently failed to go digital? The Brazilians say that the digital census has several advantages over paper and pen methods. They say that the data is more accurate since GPS data will pinpoint the exact location of a household. The GPS data is cross-referenced with satellite images to ensure that responses are correctly geo-tagged. The recently begun census will underpin future publicy-making decisions."
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Brazil Using Smartphones For Planning the Future

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  • Not the First (Score:5, Interesting)

    by grcumb (781340) on Sunday August 29, 2010 @03:06PM (#33410344) Homepage Journal

    Strictly speaking, Brazil is not the first nation to do this.

    The tiny Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu recently completed their 2010 census using smart phones. They mapped every single household across over 80 inhabited islands using GPS and are in the process of putting everything into a GIS-ready database.

    The challenge, of course, was several orders of magnitude smaller, but as a proof of concept, it was compelling. To be able to use electronic data gathering ina Least Developed Country with no mobile phone service to 20% of the country is pretty remarkable. This is the first time in its history that Vanuatu has had reliable, complete demographic data.

  • First? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mattj452 (838570) on Sunday August 29, 2010 @03:36PM (#33410522)
    The Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland in this context) have all abolished the manual census counting years ago. In Sweden, the last census survey was made in 1990. Since then, an automatic system has been in place to which you report whenever you move, get married, have kids etc (well, I think the hospital is reporting children). Formally, this has to be made on paper so it is technically not a fully digital system. However, since the introduction of E-ID's a few years back, it has been possible to do this online, beating Brazil with at least 4 years.
  • 'Conversative' has lost it's meaning an US politics and has become another name for a political party. The conversatives aren't conservative.

  • Re:Cost of Labor (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aggles (775392) on Sunday August 29, 2010 @03:41PM (#33410560)
    I had a good look at the US Census hardware and used it in the field with a census taker. It did nothing a smart phone couldn't do, but appeared to be an over-engineered yet poorly featured military industrial complex piece of crap. I'm SURE it cost way too much money, especially compared with the cost of an LG smart phone.
  • by demonlapin (527802) on Sunday August 29, 2010 @03:49PM (#33410594) Homepage Journal
    And enumeration is a lot less easy to game. Imagine the political games currently played at redistricting time being played with the census itself.
  • Re:First? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by guantamanera (751262) on Sunday August 29, 2010 @04:32PM (#33410804)
    Sweden doesn't as many immigrants as the USA or Brazil get legal or illegal that go in and out, plus in Sweden you don't have a big uncrossable jungle where there are still people who have never seen a white man. I used to live in Finland in a swedish speaking island Maarianhamina(lived with finns) and even counting all the people in each archipelago along with their livestock is way easier than counting all the people from the amazon.

    The Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland in this context) have all abolished the manual census counting years ago. In Sweden, the last census survey was made in 1990. Since then, an automatic system has been in place to which you report whenever you move, get married, have kids etc (well, I think the hospital is reporting children). Formally, this has to be made on paper so it is technically not a fully digital system. However, since the introduction of E-ID's a few years back, it has been possible to do this online, beating Brazil with at least 4 years.

  • Re:Cost of Labor (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Raenex (947668) on Sunday August 29, 2010 @07:35PM (#33411598)

    It might not even be legal since the letter of the law clearly specifies an enumeration of every individual.

    If they wanted to follow the law, they wouldn't ask all those other questions that had nothing to do with enumerating, including questions about race.

    Besides, the specific data from this Census gets opened in 2080 and will be a treasure trove for historians and genealogists.

    Or it may be opened before then [wikipedia.org] and used for other reasons.

  • Re:US did do GPS (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Stihdjia (1870316) on Sunday August 29, 2010 @11:55PM (#33412500)

    Actually we did. One enumerator in my district did just that. He researched his assignments on the internet, and tried to forge reasonable responses. Of course this was detected during the quality control operation. This led to several humorous (well, on our side at least) interviews that went something like this:

    QC Clerk: Hello, Mr. Smith? We recently received your census response, and are calling for quality control. Could you confirm that John Smith resided at this address on April 1, 2010?

    Resident: John? Oh, heavens no... He died in '03. I have never been contacted by a census worker before.

    I feel bad for the folks that were contacted like this, but we checked every enumerator's work. I also feel for the large number of people who were contacted multiple times for QC purposes, who understandably became quite tired of hearing from us.

    Incidentally, the enumerators were initially given palm-top computers which I assume were similar to what delivery service workers carry. This was to be the main method field enumerators would use, meaning the US had planned to be largely digital. I never saw these because the idea was scrapped before the main operation began.

    The government may be slow to adopt technology, but they are not so stupid as to trust hundreds of thousands of temporary works at their word alone.

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