Guernsey first in Europe to conduct e-census

Guernsey launches an electronic based annual census to replace the existing paper form of the population survey.

Guernsey will be the first place in Europe to use an e-census; the move to an electronic system will keep track of the population and demographic trends on a more frequent basis.

The e-census system will process data through a variety of government departments, including health and education, in order to give information on local populations, school catchments and voting regions.

Company Digimap are providing the system software; managing director Colin Le Conte said, “information is very important to governments… to increase efficiency and make more informed decisions through the use of technology.”

Digimap director of software development John Surcombe said, “the system has many potential uses.

Demographic information is increasingly important to modern governments and this system makes this information easier to access. Importantly it also does not burden the individual.

There are no forms to fill in or extra information to provide. It works based on information that people already give to government.”

The States of Guernsey said that the census information will only be held in digital format and will be not be freely accessible, with census officers allowed access to the IT system.

The States explained: “the benefits of this are that there would be an audit trail of access to the information if needed and additionally census officers have less contact with personal details than they would if handling traditional census forms, since the data is anonymised by the IT system before being made available for analysis. The data can be used for statistical purposes only.”

Costs of conducting an e-census are set to total approximately 50% of a single paper based census, whilst running costs compare to those of a traditional census every five years.

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