Early census operations starting | SteamboatToday.com

Early census operations starting

Workers will be on neighborhood streets using GPS handheld computers

— The U.S. Census Bureau will launch a massive operation beginning next week to verify and update more than 145 million addresses as it prepares to conduct the 2010 census.

Although the count is still a year away, workers will be going door to door, verifying addresses to ensure the accuracy of next year’s census delivery lists.

For the first time ever, field staff will be using GPS-enabled handheld computers to make census delivery lists as accurate as possible.

Steps have been taken to make sure that these workers with handhelds are easy to recognize. Every temporary census employee will have an official identification badge with the employee’s signature and an expiration date.

They also will carry a tote bag with the words census 2010 and will have an identification card for the inside of their car.

Whenever possible, workers have been hired directly from local communities where they are familiar with the neighborhoods and with the people who live in them.

“A complete and accurate address list is the cornerstone of a successful census,” said Cathy Illian, Director of the Denver Regional Census Center. “Work done by our field staff in early operations updates the address list for the delivery of next year’s questionnaires. This ensures more people receive their forms and more people return them.”

The GPS-enabled handheld computers will help ensure geographic accuracy. The ability to capture GPS coordinates for most of the nation’s housing units will greatly reduce the number of coding questions caused by paper maps in previous counts. This further increases the accuracy of delivery lists.

One of the largest community-mobilization efforts of the decade, census work is completed in communities and benefits local residents. Through the lifecycle of the 2010 Decennial Census, it will employ workers for thousands of temporary, full- and part-time positions working in neighborhoods throughout the ten state Denver Region.

Nationally, $300 billion in federal funding each year will come back to local areas based in part on census data. Dollars will be used for roads, schools, education, housing and other community-based projects.

All census information collected, including addresses, are confidential and protected by law.

The U.S. Census Bureau, and all workers, are bound by law to protect the confidential information collected. Staff members also receive extensive Title 13 training on confidentiality and are sworn to secrecy.

A violation of that oath is punishable by a fine of as much as $250,000 and as many as five years in jail.

The 2010 Census is the largest peacetime operation conducted by the federal government and is the basis for the reapportionment of congressional seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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