IN this era of information technology (IT), the national census should take place with the help of modern tools and techniques, and it is nice to know that such an approach is being adopted. The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) has claimed that the 7th census will take place digitally, i.e., by collecting data through electronic devices which will be connected to the internet. This is really a welcome step by the government.
Being a student of Computer Science, I am expecting much more that can be implemented easily. For example, animated videos explaining the step by step process will help laymen understand the procedure well.
There should be clarity about the definition of ‘family’, ‘people abroad’, ‘families living in a joint system’, ‘families living in more than one houses’, and many other related aspects that must be published in all major languages of Pakistan.
We need to have online availability of hard copies of forms. Such forms will make the process easier for those who cannot understand the online filing and submission process.
This hard-copy data can be cross-checked during field visits. Apart from the relevant field staff, the services of volunteers can also be acquired.
Internet availability, electricity and data entry knowledge are some of the hurdles that may disturb the process. As a backup, paper records should also be kept as a parallel system.
We had already faced such a failure during the 2018 general elections in the form of system glitch. There is every reason we should learn from the episode.
Published in Dawn, January 30th, 2023
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