Posts Tagged ‘Brazil’
It is a pretty pathetic and sad story when a developing nation’s ability to integrate technology with governance far exceeds our own. Brazil’s strategy saves massive amounts of both time and money. Yet, this is something that I’ve discussed for quite some time with regard to other nations, like Australia. Here’s some news from Brazil which makes you wonder why more people who made decisions about the 2010 Census in the mid 2000s weren’t fired on the spot:
The Harvard Business Review‘s Daily Stat for Tuesday, April 6, 2010, highlighted a disruptive innovation in, of all things, census-taking. According to the publication:
It’s a national census of hundreds of millions of people across 8 million square kilometers, using a workforce of 230,000 and budget of $1.4 billion. The 2010 U.S. Census? No, it’s Brazil’s 2010 census. The current U.S. headcount, by contrast, requires 3.8 million workers and $14 billion. Census takers in Brazil use PDAs and laptops; those in the U.S. still rely mainly on paper. – Source: Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatístic
While the United States tends to be seen as the technology innovation capital of the world, it seems we’re falling down in “government services innovation.” Doesn’t the US Census fall under the administration’s social innovation program? What other program is intended to have an impact on every single citizen of the US, if not this one?
On any corner of a typical US city, one can buy GPS-enabled, off-the-shelf, 3G-powered mobile devices, with local storage for data collection and Web-enabled connections to the back office. In short, the perfect mobile device for census collections is almost a commodity.
But it seems the US Census Bureau made the classic Innovator’s Dilemma mistake of choosing the slow, safe (and expensive) player, while the consumer mobile world blew by.
The supplier in question is Harris Corp. (NYSE: HRS), which started work on the mobile census project in 2006. It turns out that four years is an eternity in the modern mobile world, and Harris simply couldn’t match the speed of the market with its own proprietary, custom-built devices.
In contrast to the US approach to having custom devices built, Brazil partnered with LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) , as noted in TechTicker: “Brazil will start taking its population census in the second half of this year and to ensure a smooth and efficient counting, the Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatistica (IBGE) has roped in LG to supply 150,000 GM750 phones.”
The GM750 is ruggedized and comes with its own application; but otherwise, the core phone itself is a device anyone with $100 or less could buy at the corner mobile store.
You may be thinking, who really cares? Perhaps we all should. According to CNN, Hermann Habermann, a former deputy director of the Census Bureau, thinks that without handheld data collection via mobile phone, the government is missing out on a chance to get information more quickly and cheaply than through the mail.
The technology would also help to better identify which Census tract a home is in, which determines an area’s representation in Congress and the distribution of more than $435 billion in federal funds every year. With GPS, according to CNN, the Census Bureau’s Daniel Weinberg, assistant director for the decennial census, anticipated placing residences within a 0.5 percent error rate into the correct tract. Without GPS, the Census Bureau places approximately 5 percent of residences in the wrong tract.
Unfortunately, with the fallback to paper, the error rate is likely to remain, as is the (inadvertent) mis-distribution of funds. While a 4.5 percent error differential may not seem like much, when you’re distributing billions of dollars each percentage point is quite significant in its effect on the local and state economies.
Lessons learned? Pay attention to the trends happening in parallel to your “normal” business and technology world — or you may find that your technological innovation has been disrupted by the fast movers you couldn’t be bothered to notice.
Whether in private, public, government, or other spaces, look around, and you’ll see disruption creeping up on you. Be aware of the technology environment and evolve! Or suffer the costs.
— Dan Keldsen is a Principal and Strategic Advisor at Information Architected.
By Julia Spitz/Daily News staffPosted Feb 10, 2010 @ 12:45 AM
Census officials hope a little humor will lead to an accurate headcount.
“2010 Census: The Adventures of Ze Brasil & Tiao Mineiro,” a comic book in Portuguese, is part of a Boston Regional Census Center initiative to let Brazilian immigrants know about the importance of the national census conducted every 10 years.
Local Portuguese-language newspapers and magazines will distribute comic books in Framingham and Marlborough next week, then again next month. Churches with predominantly Brazilian congregations will also distribute the 16-page publication.
“We are trying to reach everyone,” said Alexandra Barker, U.S. Census media specialist.
Ze Brasil and Tiao Mineiro are familiar figures to readers of Bay State Brazilian newspapers. Boston-based cartoonist Daniel Nocera launched the series featuring the two illegal immigrants living in Massachusetts in 2005.
The comic strip, which is carried in The Metropolitan Brazilian News and A Noticia weekly papers in New England, as well as The Brazilian News in London and The Brasil News in Toronto, puts a humorous spin on struggles the pair face due to their inability to speak English and lack of documentation.
Using situations such as not knowing when to get off a T train or dealing with an unscrupulous landlord, Nocera said he tries to depict reality but also make readers laugh and think.
“I believe many Brazilians will identify themselves with my characters,” he said.
The census-themed booklet is an extension of the comic strips that “use a mild sense of humor and creativity as tools for getting the messages out.
“There are three short stories and three games, all involving the main census messages: It’s easy, it’s important and it’s confidential,” said Nocera, who was named best Brazilian cartoonist living outside Brazil in 2008 and 2009. In the booklet, Ze Brasil and Tiao Mineiro are visited by a census worker, and talk about things that can be improved, such as schools and hospitals, based on an accurate census count.
“This comic book is an important tool for our outreach efforts to this hard-to-count population, which is the largest foreign-born community in the Boston region,” said Barker.
“We want to be culturally sensitive, not too bureaucratic,” she said.