30 August 2010

Smartphone Census ~ Brazil Gets Data All-Digital

Thanks to Engineering for Change (plus Slashdot, etc) for spotting Parminder Bahra's piece Brazil’s Smartphone Census...
"...the Brazilian government has embarked on the world’s first fully digital national census. It has achieved this ahead of countries like the US whose digital trials failed and resulted in it reverting to an old-fashioned paper based census. The Brazilian census is another example of how developing and emerging countries are using technology to address the challenges they face and leapfrogging developed countries. [...] The Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), who conducted the survey, opted for off the shelf technology. It ordered 150,000 LG 750 GM smartphones which are widely available and retail at around £180 (US$280). Census interviewers collected responses onto the smartphones which in turn were used to send the data via GPS to one of 7,000 data collection units. 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 digital approach allows changes to areas, streets and buildings to be incorporated. This is particularly pertinent in the slums as these areas tend to change quickly and their density mean that printed maps are quickly out of date. The use of digital technology means that mapping is considerably more accurate and that adjustments and changes can be made all the time to ensure that the coverage is as comprehensive as possible."
Great! This enables ever more sophisticated socioinformatics and is an excellent example of building higher-level functionality on top of mobile phones and networks.

No comments: