Country Paper: Automation of data capture, data processing and dissemination of the 2009 National Population and Housing Census in Vanuatu.

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1 Country Paper: Automation of data capture, data processing and dissemination of the 2009 National Population and Housing Census in Vanuatu. For Expert Group Meeting Opportunities and advantages of enhanced collaboration on statistical information management in Asia and the Pacific, June 2011, Bangkok, Thailand Benuel Lenge, Senior Statistician, Statistical Leadership and Coordination Unit, Vanuatu National Statistics Office 1. Introduction The Vanuatu national Statistics Office (VNSO) is under the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management (MFEM), whose key role is to collect, compile and supply economic and social data to users in government, the private sector and international organizations. The VNSO statistical structure is pretty much centralized with recent efforts in trying to assist key government departments in strengthening their statistical capacities in data collection and storage and also establishment of provincial statistical offices. The geographical nature of the archipelago and coupled with limited resources continue to prove as a challenge in terms of data collection in Vanuatu. The VNSO has recently conducted 2 censuses and 3 household surveys apart from its ongoing regular activities. The office has also played a major role in other surveys conducted by government and non government institutions. The National Censuses remain a backbone activity of VNSO in producing baseline data for most socio-economic information of the country. The 2009 Census was the third census after our political independence. However, it was for the first time in the 2009 Census that the technology of scanning census forms and also the use of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) handheld receivers. 2. To scan or not to scan Traditionally censuses and survey data is collected via questionnaires and then manually entered into some sort of data processing system. The decision to include scanning for the 2009 census only came about during the preparations phase of census and there were no prior recommendation or plan to adopt scanning in any statistical data collection activity for VNSO. The VNSO is aware that scanning technology is capable of improving the speed and accuracy significantly freeing up resources (people and equipment) and providing for faster access to 1

2 results but is yet to be convinced considering the small number of people in the country, the technical knowhow and the costs involved. So as a census requirement, a pilot test was conducted with the support from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), and were able to test not only for scanning but also for traditional Key Data Entry (KDE), running in parallel for comparison purposes, in terms of cost, time and quality of the data. The results from the pilot test were summarized according to accuracy, time and cost as outlined below. Accuracy: There was no significant difference in reported data quality between the 2 approaches. Output tables were very similar which totals almost identical. Time: Using the results from the pilot, we anticipate that data tabulations using scanning will be or 10 months earlier than manual data entry. Costs: For the Census proper, scanning will cost an extra US$ 40,000. However this is largely due to the one-off payments of scanner (hardware) and Readsoft FORMS (software). In the case of Vanuatu hardware/software costs are borne by the census project though will benefit a range of other census and survey activities in the future. 3. How does scanning work? After looking at a few options, it was decided that a package called Readsoft FORMS (www.readsoft.com) be used. The scanning process below will be explained using this software, though the concepts are the same for any scanning application. FORMS is installed in a network environment with a database like SQL Server running on a central server and workstations involved in the scanning and verification operations. There are a series of modules which make up the FORMS package: A. Manager configure the questionnaire by defining each individual question and data types expected, there are also general settings, user access etc B. Scan controls the scanner and scans forms to TIF images C. Interpret using rules/constraints set up for each data item on the questionnaire (through Manager module), try and interpret the data on the form D. Verify where data has been hard to interpret or hasn t abided by rules in the questionnaire design, present the data item to a user for modification/confirmation. E. Transfer export data to a format (CSPRO, SAS, SPSS and others) for tabulation/processing etc. In terms of scanning hardware, a Kodak 1400 scanners with a capability of scanning A3 size papers was used. 2

3 4. The use of Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers Like scanning, never before had VNSO used GPS in its data collection and with emerging technologies and increasing demand for reliable information, VNSO was made aware of the advantages of taking household locations for census using handheld GPS receivers and outline below: A. Disaggregated census data to the household level holds the potential of huge cost savings for the Vanuatu Government. B. GPS gives census management a tool to check whether GPS operators have covered all households in their area of responsibility. The handheld Garmin (etrexh) GPS receivers were used, offering good accuracy (five meters or better) at low cost. The use of GPS adds another dimension to data capture in the census which improves the quality and accuracy. 5. Questionnaire design and content The use of word/excel for questionnaire design is gradually ending as new software is becoming available for such purpose. For example, Adobe InDesign software has been used in the current round of censuses to design questionnaire, especially to get the questionnaire in the format and color appropriate for scanning. Deciding on topics and questions to include in censuses and household surveys is an interactive process involving NSOs and their key stakeholders. New subjects included by Vanuatu in the 2010 round of censuses have addressed some of the key additions advocated by the United Nations Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses, such as questions on disability, mortality, and IT use (cell phones and internet). The 2009 Census questionnaire was formatted to fit in a double sided A3 size paper. Data processing and editing Traditionally census or survey data is collected through paper questionnaires and then manually entered into CSPRO, with most countries opting for double-entry to improve accuracy. Census data processing involved three main steps: questionnaire scanning, checking the scanned data and coding the written responses to open ended questions. These responses are coded with classifications according to international standards such as the International Standard Classification of Occupation (ISCO) and the International Standard Classification of Industry (ISIC). 3

4 With the introduction of automated data entry, there is still the need to clean and tabulate data CSPro will always play a key role in the data capture and processing cycle. Although the amount of time that is normally spent on manual data entry is reduced dramatically by scanning, we have found out that data editing can take much longer. It was later discovered that using pencils in and rubber in filling up the forms was not the best option due to the amount of dirt that the rubbing can hold onto the forms thus making the forms hard to be read by the program. 6. Census data dissemination dissemination workshops The dissemination of the results ranges from hard copy publications, electronic copies to through the website, through mass media and dissemination workshops throughout the provinces. The statistics day of provides the opportunity to showcase some of the works done by VNSO and the office is thinking of making this an annual event. The introduction of a led screen outside the office proves effectives as it is centrally located next to the main market place which is a busy area. The screen displays statistical information produced by the statistical office. a. Website redevelopment Over the last 12 months the VNSO has seen the introduction of the use of a Content Management System hosted by the Vanuatu Government IT department. The website includes all the latest releases, detailed Census 2009 tables and the National Data Archive (NADA) system for storing metadata. You can access the site via the following link: The website also includes a live population clock using projection algorithms to estimate the current population of Vanuatu based on recent census results. Plans remain in place for the further development for the successful PopGIS program in order to leverage the new technology solutions available. b. E-government project In 2006 the e-government concept was introduced to the Government of Vanuatu and proposed to build a high speed data network to link each office to improve the communication between government offices. You can access the site via the following link: It is now in its final phase of the construction and expected to be in operation soon. Besides using for the data communication, this high speed network can be used for Voice communication as well as Video Conference. This high speed will serve as the nationwide backbone data communication which will benefit other industries including the medication, education, tourism, finance, etc. As far as VNSO is concerned, this is a huge opportunity in terms of data sharing and dissemination where data can be utilized widely for its optimum use. 4

5 7. The Population Geographical information System (PopGIS) The Vanuatu Population GIS was a product developed by SPC for the 1999 census and was originally designed for presentation, analysis and dissemination of data has also been used extensively by PICTs to provide up-to-date maps needed to assist in the planning and management of census operations and other survey activities. This data include boundaries of the smallest levels of administrative areas which enable the dissemination of small area statistics. Its capability proved useful in preparing the enumeration area maps for the 2009 census. As a result SPC has worked with VNSO to develop an automated mapping application of census enumeration areas allowing staff to select their geography and run an automated mapping macro to produce high quality PDF map outputs. 8. Microdata Management Toolkit In 2009, the Microdata Management Toolkit was introduced to us by SPC who has been involving in conducting two training workshops in the Micro Management Toolkit in the Pacific Islands region and aimed to prepare documented datasets as part of an initial pilot project in the region with the key workshop objectives and activities were to: Discuss the need for an official data access and protection policy for microdata sets; Archive documented census/survey datasets on NSO file server and CD-Rom; Document microdata from recent household surveys and censuses; Train participants in the use of the Microdata Management Toolkit; Currently VNSO has made moderate progress towards incorporating a metadata strategy into its organisational Structure. The dissemination team (made up of 4 members of staff) has taken on this task and has successfully documented and published 4 surveys (HIES 2006, Multi Indicator Cluster Survey 2007, Agriculture Census 2008, Population and Housing Census 2009). It has been recognised by the department that access to high quality metadata/microdata is an absolute priority for Establishment of Statistical Leadership and Coordination Unit In 2006, VNSO was fortunate to receive institutional strengthening from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) through Ausaid funding and has since implemented the recommendations such as reviewing the organizational structure, and recruiting for a fully fledged staff. Another is the 5

6 establishment of the Statistical Leadership and Coordination Unit whose main responsibility are to provide: Statistical coordination across government Special Survey coordination (such as Population Census, Agriculture Census, Household Income and Expenditure Survey and Demography and Health Survey) Analytic Reporting Consultancy work Creating documentation for all of the Vanuatu National Statistical Office Surveys (Data management and Knowledge management) Disseminating statistics through publications and on the website 10. Constraints: Legislation and policies for Microdata dissemination is lacking or vague. For instance the Statistical Law or Act may either explicitly prohibit the dissemination of Microdata, or not mention the issue at all. Recent heads of statistics meeting do share the concerning in the need for a data access and protection policy to be in place to ensure that the release of Microdata complies with Government regulations and legislation (Statistics Act), in particular protecting confidentiality and privacy of personal information. In Vanuatu a draft policy was prepared and the review in the whole statistics act is expected to be tabled in parliament later this year. The increasing demand for data and the availability of qualified Staff and limited resources continue to pose as a challenge despite having a fully fledged staff. The continuous workload provided limited (if any) time for microdata documentation, not to mention that no specific staff was assigned for this purpose. Geographical and cultural factors remain. The fact that there are over 60 inhabited islands scattered throughout the archipelago mean lot of cost in terms of transportation. With over 100 languages existing in Vanuatu, it boasts the highest language per capita, which literally mean over 100 ways of doing things and as far as data collection and dissemination is concerned, it will continue to pose as an issue for translations. 11. Conclusions: Despite the constraints, VNSO has made steady progress and with the current trend of development, it will surely be a matter of few more years before all these concepts of dissemination and microdata documentation become an integral part of the VNSO activities. The statistics act review will definitely reinforce these ideas in keeping up with the latest development and at the same time safeguarding the integrity and credibility of VNSO as the sole entity for producing official statistics. 6

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