A Population and Housing Census is usually the single largest data collection exercise conducted by a country’s National Statistical Office. Traditional data capture methods involve the use of paper survey forms and thousands of temporary census workers for face-to-face interviews; however, technological advances have allowed for improved data collection, analysis, and dissemination. Software such as the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and the Computer-Assisted Personal Interviews (CAPI), together with new technology like drones and a digital printing system has advanced the data capture process in Trinidad and Tobago.

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GIS can enhance the data collection and analysis process undertaken by a national statistical organisation.

It is used for capturing, storing, and visualizing a variety of data related to specific locations on the planet’s surface. Streets, buildings, vegetation and more can easily be displayed using GIS, allowing for a holistic understanding of population patterns, social trends, and spatial relationships.

In Trinidad and Tobago, a permanent GIS unit was established after the 1990 Population and Housing Census. Since then, the GIS has been used to update maps of all enumeration districts, to attach data sets from previous censuses to municipal boundary files, to compile a Community Census Map Album and an Agricultural Census Album, and to complete digital maps for past Household Budgetary Surveys and the Continuous Sample Surveys.

Data derived from a GIS can be utilized by several other government organizations such as:

  • The Ministry of Health to map diseases and infections,
  • The Ministry of Local Government to allocate social services to vulnerable populations,
  • The Ministry of National Security to improve the statistical analysis of crime, and
  • The Ministry of Agriculture to identify coastal and low-lying communities for disaster management policies.
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Data from GIS have positive implications for the health, agriculture, social, national security sectors and more.

The primary source of information necessary for the effective development of socio-economic and environmental trends is the national census. However, the planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating of development initiatives is greatly aided with the use of accurate mapping technology such as the GIS.

The CAPI method involves the use of portable electronic devices to collect, store and transmit data from personal surveys. CAPI is a cost-effective, sustainable method used by national statistical organisations. The electronic questionnaires with drop-down menus allow for the collection of new types of information, ensure data accuracy and comparability, along with improving the time taken for the data collection process. Recently, the CSO gained valuable experience in the conduct of two surveys using the CAPI approach: a survey of Informal Enterprises utilising ILO’s 123 methodology and a Socio-Economic Study related to Protected Areas in Trinidad and Tobago.

One CAPI software called Survey Solutions, designed by the World Bank, is a simple point and click interface which allows statisticians to achieve a high level of proficiency in the software within a few days. The adaptive design incorporates multi-language settings, facilitates large amounts of questions, quality control and monitoring. Offered free of charge, Survey Solutions can assist entities like governments, statistical offices, and civil organisations to conduct simple to complex surveys with dynamic structures using Android devices.

Other data collection modes that are under consideration for future censuses and surveys by the CSO include the collection of data via the use of online survey forms and Computer-Assisted Web Interviews (CAWI).

In 2018, a tender for the acquisition of a digital printing system was issued for the CSO. Digital printing is a modern printing process used for on-demand, high quality prints. It provides significant improvements in efficiency, costs, wastage, and eco-friendly printing using less harmful chemicals.

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Modern digital printing systems are safer and facilitate more functions than traditional printers.

A key advantage of digital printing is its variable data capability which allows for the large-scale printing of unique codes, addresses or numbers on individual pieces of paper.

During the 30th Meeting of the Standing Committee for Caribbean Statisticians (SCCS) in Jamaica in 2005, it was noted that the CSO generated over TTD 100,000 in revenue with the provision of coloured paper and digital maps to other Ministries, agencies and individuals for the period October 2004 to September 2005. The investment in a digital printing system together with other cutting-edge technologies is expected to create greater and continued cost-benefits, in addition to contributing to the digital transformation agenda set forth by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.

Author: Central Statistical Office

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