Census: Bengaluru poised to get national data center

Ahead of India’s ten-year workforce, a full-fledged national data center is being built in Koramangala, Bengaluru, with nearly 80 engineers and technical staff.

The center, one of three facilities of its kind in the country, is expected to play a key role as more than 1.5 million field enumerators will use mobile applications to enter census data for the first time, moving away from the traditional practice of collecting details with a pen and paper.

“We have completed two rounds of testing so far to ensure the new technology is foolproof. In districts where the counters were sent to tentatively collect data, over 99% of them felt comfortable using the mobile app to fill in details,” said Vijay Kumar SB, director of census operations in Karnataka IE. “We found some enumerators that prefer the old system, but their percentage is tiny.”

Also read | Digitizing the census process to ensure 100% census: Shah

In the past, the mammoth exercise of data collection – which is carried out in two phases (house list and population survey) – went to the houses with counting bundles. These papers were then sent from the nooks and crannies of the state to Bengaluru, where they were scanned to convert the data into a specific format. It used to take three to five years of tedious work to get the final census report.

The digital intervention, Vijay Kumar said, would reduce the time it takes to input the data in a specific format and analyze it. “We have developed a mobile application for the counters who will be out there collecting data. The mobile phone doesn’t need an active internet connection to feed in the data,” he said. “Data fed in by the enumerators is synced to the data center almost instantly.”

The census is conducted in two phases. In the first round, school teachers, who double as counters, go from house to house to record the amenities in each household. The second round is about the headcount and profiling of people. Due to three consecutive Covid-19 waves, the census exercise has been postponed at least twice. Officials say the census may not be held until next year.

In Karnataka, due to favorable weather conditions, the first round is preferred during the summer holidays in April and May. The second round, called the census, will take place across the country at the same time next February.

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