US Census Will Be Online In 2020

The US Census Bureau is planning to step into a science-fictional future - the 2020 US census will be conducted on the Internet.

Increased diversity means questionnaires and ad campaigns must be produced in more languages. Fewer Americans willingly participate in surveys, making it more expensive to gather statistics about them. And the Census Bureau has been pressured to make its count more accurate, especially for smaller groups of people that tend to be undercounted.

But under prodding by Congress, the bureau is trying to keep the per-household cost stable, though the total cost inevitably will rise with inflation and population growth.

“Congress has instructed us to find a way to do things for no more money,” said Jim Dinwiddie, a senior census official who helps oversee the decennial census. “So we’re looking at what things we might do that have a dramatic impact on costs.”

One of the main reasons? Costs - the 2010 census cost $96 per household.

Fans of sf great John Brunner recall that in his 1976 novel The Shockwave Rider, the entire North American continent took part in an electronic plebiscite experience geared toward a diverse national audience:

From 0700 local until 1900 every veephone on the continent would display, over and over, two propositions, accompanied by a spoken version for the benefit of the illiterate. Most would be in English, but some would be in Spanish, some in Amerind languages, some in Chinese ...

Via Washington Post.

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