Census 2011 mega-data capture begins

14 December 2011

Approximately 135 000 boxes of questionnaires, 225-million individual pages, and 775 000 man-hours … Planning Minister Trevor Manuel says he is confident in the strict oversight and data capturing processes involved in the delivery of Census 2011.

Speaking at a tour of Statistics South Africa’s (Stats SA) data processing centre in Pretoria on Monday, Manuel expressed confidence in the oversight exercised by the statistical body.

He said it was fundamentally important for South Africa to know how many citizens it had, as well as their access to services such as water and energy.

South Africa embarked on its third national census since the advent of democracy on 10 October to 31 October, followed by mop-up operations that begun in November.

Rigorous process

The questionnaires are currently being delivered to the centre for processing into data.

The sealed questionnaires are transported by trucks to the centre, where they are received and scanned to co-ordinate with data stored on computer before going into temporary store. Following this, the questionnaires (which come to the centre in boxes) are scanned by a zip-zip scan. Each questionnaire has its own unique bar-code.

During the data capturing phase of Census 2011, approximately 225-million pages will be handled and scanned over the six-month period which begins this month. During this process, the pages of the questionnaires are separated so that they can be scanned.

Census project director Calvin Molongoana said 880 temporary staff had been appointed for the job, with 220 people working per shift at the 24-hour centre.

775 000 man-hours

Nearly 775 000 man-hours will go into ensuring that accurate data is made available.

Molongoana added that the Pretoria premises were access controlled, with staff not being allowed to enter the room where the boxes of questionnaires are kept with anything flammable on them. Data at the centre is backed up daily.

“I’m pretty satisfied with the processes,” said Manuel, adding that there were risks associated with the transporting of boxes. The minister said trucks transporting the questionnaires were monitored and that their whereabouts were known at any given moment.

135 000 boxes

“The centre is expecting a total of 135 000 boxes to come for processing. The centre has the capacity to scan an A4 box of paper per minute. The process is complex, there is no room for error,” said Manuel, adding that results of Census 2011 were expected to be released in November 2012.

“We are ready to convert information into electronic information,” said Stats SA’s deputy director-general for population and social statistics, Kefiloe Masiteng.

“We are ready to ensure that all the data collected gets to be processed that will be able to inform the total number of people in the country and even their living circumstances.”

The census (from the beginning until the release of the results) has a R3.2-billion budget.

Source: BuaNews