My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Posts Tagged ‘internet’

No Facebook while working at the Census Bureau? No reading blogs either?

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

Federal News Radio presents us with the following piece about procedural changes at the Census Bureau:

By Rachel Stevens
Federal News Radio

Checking your Facebook page or browsing the Internet at work could be causing more than just procrastination. It could lead to serious security breaches.

A new policy at the Census Bureau allows managers to revoke Internet access for employees that repeatedly fail to follow security measures.

“I don’t foresee it being something that’s abused” says Tim Ruland, Chief Information Technology Security Officer at the Census Bureau. “I think it’s going to be used very cautiously because, let’s face it, it’s an Internet world. It’s an option. It’s a management option. It’s not something we’re advocating…The manager needs to determine that. It’s a risk-based decision.”

He says his office does keep records of the amount of incidents associated with a particular employee. That also means tracking in-bound and out-bound traffic and worker use patterns. He will release this data to managers to help them make decisions, Ruland says, but he insists his office is “not the police.”

Ruland says his office has to reimage 25-30 computers per month because of inappropriate surfing and use of social networking websites like Facebook. He says this creates significant productivity loss.

“When you have to reimage a PC, you’re taking staff away from the IT directorate, but more importantly you’re taking the ability of that individual to do their job,” Ruland says.

In an attempt to respond to the growing cybersecurity problem, Ruland says his office has been working on a Web surfing handbook for new employees.

“We determined that there was a need to try and give something to somebody that they could have at their desk, that we could give them when they come in. Kind of a simple: ‘You’re at the Census Bureau; this is what you should think about.’”

He says the first draft of the guide is almost complete. It will eventually be distributed to new employees at orientations along with a general IT security handbook that is already distributed.

“It’s based on things that we’re seeing: what they should worry about when they’re going on Facebook, what they should worry about when they’re going on the Web and doing their business or surfing,” Ruland says.

Australia’s modern census operations

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

Check out an article HERE about how Australia is running their census operations — using the internet.

Daily Sound Off: No internet use on the job

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Here’s today’s Daily Sound Off:

(Every day MyTwoCensus published one submission.)

My CL told us today that we may no longer use the Internet to do any digging while working as enumerators. Typing in someone’s address — “123 Main St.,” for example constitutes a breach of confidentiality, we’re told.

What fucking nonsense.

The Web has been a great help — not as a substitute for interviewing, but developing leads for interviews. Examples include:

– Looking up ownership information on city/county databases. 123 Main St. may be a rental property owned by John Smith in a neighboring town, but you have no way of learning this — or Mr. Smith’s address/phone number — without accessing government property ownership records.

– Looking up information about a resident who you have not been able to reach. Example: You know John Smith lives at 123 Main St., but you don’t know his phone number and he’s never home. You learn from Google that he works at Zyx Co. nearby. You cal Zyx, ask for Mr. Smith, and enumerate him over the phone.

– Looking up phone numbers for neighbors/proxies in reverse address lookups.

To be clear, we’re not — or shouldn’t be — using Web-sourced data as a substitute for enumeration. The form is always filled out in person or on the phone with a knowledgeable party. But in many cases the best way to develop contact information for a knowledgeable party is with Web-based tools.

Utter fucking madness. The people running the census would screw up a three-car funeral.

Dr. Groves deflects discussion of 2010 Census in interview and talks about 2020 instead….

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

The Census Bureau’s PR and spin team is at it again. What better way for Census Director Robert M. Groves to avoid talking about the failures of the 2010 Census than to discuss the 2020 Census? Even more shocking is the mainstream media’s failure to report on the Census Bureau problems and jump all over the quote from the interview with Federal News Radio:

Director Robert Groves told Federal News Radio the Bureau is already planning to test using the Internet using the American Community Survey (ACS).

“One of the things I’m committed to,” said Groves, “is to using the surveys, especially the American Community Survey as a platform to test various ideas for 2020.”

No way! In the year 2020, the Census Bureau plans to use, get this, the INTERNET! That’s only like 10 years behind what all the rest of the developed nations are doing!

From Our Inbox: A New 2010 Census iPhone App

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

From Zubin Wadia of CiviGuard:

MyTwoCensus Team,

I figured you as someone who might be interested in publishing our Census taking app for the iPhone…

http://www.icensus2010.com

The Census Bureau will not allow people to respond to surveys online… I assume this is because it is very difficult to ensure no duplicity or contamination of results (from hackers etc.).

The http://2010.census.gov site debuted about 2.5 weeks ago… and it had the 2010 form available in English and Spanish for anyone to review. A few days earlier at the Government Technology Conference I had the privilege to hear Vivek Kundra speak to us.

One thing that resonated deeply with me was his vision for a world where agencies share their data and vendors organically come up with solutions. The Census Bureau did just that. They put the form online. They made their travails public. I thought it was a travesty that the USA, in 2010, cannot allow people to do electronic censuses.

So I created an iPhone app with my team for it. It can easily be ported to the Android platform in 2 weeks. And even if the public may not be able to use it – the Census Bureau perhaps can. We are still 100+ days away from Census day 2010… which leaves plenty of time to perform any back-end integration with their address database.

The paper version of the form can be downloaded in PDF here:

http://2010.census.gov/2010census/pdf/2010_Questionnaire_Info.pdf

About the App:

- Checkboxes are hard to do on the iPhone (not a supported component out of the box) – but it works great for this use-case and we made it happen.

- Once a survey is done (takes 2 mins for normal cases), a JSON message is created, it is encrypted, compressed and sent to a REST-style web service on Google’s App Engine.

- The system uses GeoTagging to add a layer of validation. You must be within US territories. You must be within 1 mile of your home billing address related to your cell number. Then you can do a census. One census per household.

- Integration with Telecom databases and the Census Address DB is of course pending. Our expectation is that the application will have enough buzz to yield next steps with the Census Bureau.

About CiviGuard:

http://www.civiguard.com

We focus on Public Service 2.0 solutions for the US Government. Our core focus is emergency management – our CiviCast platform is the first solution in the world to offer guided evacuation or isolation guidance to civilians during a crisis. This is far more capable and detailed vs. the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) specification currently being pursued by the Fed.