St. Albert continues to have one of the highest online census response rates in Alberta, with 44 per cent of residents using the electronic tool during the last biennial enumeration.
The city is now looking to expand its use of technology when enumerating residents in future polls.
That will include the introduction of electronic tablets, rather than traditional paper questionnaires, for door-to-door enumerations, said Mary Nordvedt, deputy city clerk and census manager.
“It will assist us with ensuring that all enumerators are collecting the data in similar ways because we can build in the tablets the same parameters as on the online tool,” she said.
“Which then ensures that we are getting really good data collection, less errors, and we are able to process data quickly.”
The online census system was first launched in 2010, providing residents with a choice to complete their census online or in person.
In 2014, almost 44 per cent of households completed the census online, compared to 43 per cent in 2012, and 40 per cent in 2010.
The online poll allows for a direct transfer of data from the resident to the vendor hired for processing the information, said Nordvedt.
That's faster than using the traditional paper questionnaires, which require the city to transfer information into an electronic database first before sending it to the vendor, she said.
By changing to the use of electronic tablets for future door-to-door services, the city will achieve the same efficient data transfer as with the online system, she said.
She added that the tablets can also be configured to double-check information.
“So you cannot enter unemployment for a two-year-old,” she said.
Since the introduction of the online census, the city has also been able to save $12,000 in human resource costs by reducing the number of enumerators from about 60 to 34, she said.
Enumerators are residents of the city, hired in the spring before a census takes place.
While a complete switch to online polling is not foreseeable at this time, the city hopes that more residents will use the system in the future, she said.
“The more residents we have responding to the census online, that means over time we'll be able to use less enumerators and it just creates a lot of efficiency in terms of data processing and for our cost for collecting the data,” she said.
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