2021 Population And Housing Census Goes Digital

Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 28, 2020 (SKNIS): The 2021 Population and Housing Census in St. Kitts and Nevis will be made easier thanks to the introduction of digital tools.

“This year, we are fortunate that we are transitioning to a paperless system. Come next year, we are going to be using CAPI- Computer-Assisted Personal Interviews and actually tablets. So, the Samsung tablets are going to be the instrument that we utilize,” said Social Statistician/Demographer in the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Corneil Williams, during his October 28, 2020 appearance on ‘Working for you.’ “The questionnaires are electronic, and it is in a software called Service Solution where it is dynamic.”

In past censuses, a paper-based system called Paper-Assisted Personal Interviews (PAPI) was used. Interviewers used thick sheets of paper to manually collect data. Mr. Williams said that the introduction of CAPI is a welcomed addition.

He noted that one of the issues in the past involved the tedious task of interviewers having to manually take data and having to make note of changes. He used the examples of gender and age, noting that the question differs if you are a male or female, 15 years and under or over. Once done manually, the interviewer would have had to identify the questions for the relevant gender and proceed accordingly. However, with the introduction of CAPI past issues will be easily solved.

Now with CAPI, that is done for you. Once you indicate male, it streamlines down to male-oriented questions and once you indicate age 15 and under or 15 plus it streamlines further and guides you accordingly based on each response that you get,” he said. “What this does for us is that it drastically reduces errors. Not only that, it increases exponentially the speed at which we can go from collecting data to providing information to people.”

Mr. Williams said that there is a process that takes place before the data is collected.

“The first thing is to create the questionnaire, draft the questions, convert it into an electronic format… test on the tablets and then we can proceed to collect the data. Once you have collected that data, you have to review it, validate it, make sure it is of good quality, and, of course, you also have to ensure at every single step that it is accurate data,” said the Social Statistician/Demographer. “You must ensure that the data you are taking and turning into information is truly what comes from the public. You can’t have a person saying they are 15 years old but yet when we are finished that person is showing up as 20 years old. So, you have to maintain the integrity of the data.”

He noted that the data collected will be used for various reasons and by various entities. For example, the data on age gives a general idea of persons who are still in school, those of working age, as well as those who are retired. The data will also be utilized by Social Security for dependency purposes and pension planning.

The Census is to gather information about the general population to present a full and reliable picture of the population in the country – its housing conditions and demographic, social and economic characteristics. The information collected includes data on age, gender, country of origin, year of immigration, marital status, housing conditions, marriage, number of children, education, employment, and travel habits.

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