Senseless Census

Filed under: Governance,Policy,Privacy — lenand @ 7:59 am
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The 2012 Census should be accomplished by using a Personal Data Store (PDS), so says William Heath.

“It could poll the information once every ten years if that were good enough for statistical purposes and for planning public services. Or it could poll people’s personal data stores ever 10 months, 10 weeks, 10 hours, 10 minutes, or 10 seconds. Lockheed Martin could go back to making rockets and bombs. We’d save a pile of money. And we’d start to be able to plan public services based on real needs and preferences instead of an out-of-date decennial view.”

Whilst understanding the theory, there would still be a big hole in obtaining data from people that are difficult to reach.  Old, infirm and migrant sectors of the population are bound to be under-reported.

  • Will census staff be able to create a PDS for such people in lieu of a census return?
  • Will a Unique Personal Identifier be established?
  • Where will their Personal Data Stores be located?

No doubt a number of the privacy groups, such as the Open Rights Group and No2ID will have something to say if legislation starts to emerge.

Although William tells us that “The non-ideal 2012 Census will see Lockheed Martin paid £500m-odd of money we can ill afford to undertake a clunky process of data gathering which will take 2-3 years to complete and feed back.” It will be no surprise if the PDS infrastructure and data collection will cost more than the half billion going to the census contractor.

In our Still Bureaucratic Age, it won’t happen before 2012.


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