The Incredible Challenges of the Indian Census (via @designobserver)
In the census of India there are numerous design challenges posed by linguistic variation and literacy levels, possibility of low light and cramped conditions.
The census will not only count and categorize them by gender, religion, cast and occupation, but also probe their access to technology, toilets and personal transport, information on sources of water, house construction, types of cooking fuel and use of banking services that will provide statistical insights for policy makers, private enterprise, development agencies and beyond.
The census forms must be printed in 16 different languages, (and scripts) and many people have hazy recollections of their birth years while others adhere to religious calendars that run on lunar cycles. 2.5 million enumerators record all responses on forms that are later collected, scanned and read via character recognition software. The extensive enumerator manual provides assistance by listing local dates of interest to prompt memory of known events in relation to birth years and by correlating divergent religious calendars. The manual also encourages enumerators to be gender-sensitive and explains how to record details like polygamous marriage.
Barcodes have been employed to provide specific location details, acknowledging the comprehensive nature of both dispatch and collection in a design that has considered users’ needs alongside system-wide issues.
A large number of people in India living in tents and shelters. They are to be counted in the second phase of the census in early 2011. It’s an intensive exercise which will happen over one night across the nation to avoid double-ups.