Statistics NZ takes 2018 census online

A modernised census aims to minimise door-to-door collection and replace a 'hierarchy' of field staff with online engagement.

Statistics New Zealand is rebuilding its census capability, aiming to do away with paper-based door-to-door data collection through online interactivity.

The next census in 2018 will be "modernised", delivering the population count along with other related statistical information digitally through customer self-service.

The agency has already sealed a deal with Salesforce.com for the case management functionality required for what it calls its Enterprise Collection Platform (ECP). Now it is seeking information from vendors to deliver the front-end Internet Collection System and integration, as well as call centres.

"Previous censuses, including the 2013 census, were conducted using the traditional census model," a request for information (RFI) says. "This model used paper forms as the primary response mode and manual case management by a hierarchy of field staff."

This was supported by various ICT systems, with often constrained integration between them.

"The variety of tactical and isolated ICT solutions in Statistics NZ has led to difficulties in supporting flexible access across business groups," the RFI says. "The 2018 census is looking to implement solutions that will allow for common services to support multiple business groups in future."

Through the modernised census, Statistics NZ hopes to strip out costs, reverse a trend of declining responses, increase the availability of data to users, and meet goals for improved public service.

Statistics NZ is targeting 70 percent of responses to be submitted online, and said the Internet Collection system must be able to handle peak response of around 250,000 forms per hour.