Hong Kong: The Hong Kong SAR Government invested approximately USD 67 million for the 2011 population census, including a total of USD 192,000 for the enhancement of the Digital Mapping System (DMS) – a tool developed in order to facilitate pre-census planning work, to streamline field operations during the census period and to disseminate census data by geographical area in a more flexible way.
The DMS enabled the Census and Statistics Department to shorten the required time for activities and tasks in various stages of the census operation. According to Alvin Li, Assistant Commissioner of the Census and Statistics Department, it was not possible in the past due to various constraints.
The DMS supported various activities of the census, including the updating of the sampling frame, the allocation of assignments to enumerators, the provision of required maps for supporting fieldwork operations, and the monitoring and controlling of progress in fieldwork. Given the importance of sampling frame in census activities, the DMS enabled linkages between textual and spatial records thus making various geographical boundaries easily aligned with the address records.
“With the network analysis function of the DMS, the shortest path in visiting targeted buildings is worked out in the most efficient way possible. Through this method we are able to improve the work itinerary of field officers by providing them with more accurate estimates of the time and workload for each assignment,” Li said.
Over 100,000 maps of different scales pertaining to different parts of the territory have to be produced for the census fieldwork operation. Prior to the introduction of the DMS, all maps were prepared in a labour-intensive manner by photocopying paper maps and using cut-and-paste approach.
He added that for future Census and By-Census the Department is hoping to adopt new technologies which could significantly help in aspects of frame updating and data collection. “Technologies in mobile GIS and 3D GIS are now growing fast. It might be possible to facilitate the frame updating exercise with the mobile GIS and further integrate the Register of Quarters System, a textual address database for the Census, with the DMS.”
Also, the self-enumeration mode of data collection is well-received by households participating in the 2011 Population Census, with 1.1 million households, over 40 per cent of all households in Hong Kong, returning postal questionnaires and another 0.3 million, or over 10 per cent, submitting e-Questionnaires – an area which Li says deserves further exploration in future Population census and by-census.