Technology to make address canvassing easier for 2020 census

The U.S. Census Bureau has started canvassing addresses for the 2020 count, but significantly less work is expected this year thanks to technology upgrades.

Address canvassing is the first major field operation for the Census Bureau this year as the agency tries to update its database of households nationwide prior to starting the actual population count.

“Our goal is to conduct a complete and accurate census, but before we can do that, we need to establish where to count,” said U.S. Census Bureau Geography Division Chief Deirdre Bishop. “We need to make sure we have all the correct addresses to reach everyone.”

In 2010, address canvassing required 150,000 workers on the ground to update all of the data, but this year, the Census Bureau says it only needs 40,000 employees to complete the work.

That’s because the agency has been using new software and satellite images to track neighborhoods over time and identify new housing developments or changes in existing housing. The technology has helped the Census Bureau validate 65% of the country’s addresses already.

In central Indiana, the amount of remaining households that need to be verified vary by county. Morgan County has the highest amount of households that will be canvassed, with 39% being accounted for during the boots-on-the-ground operation.

Marion County has the lowest percentage of households left to be confirmed, with only 20% remaining. Hendricks County has 39%, Johnson County has 38%, Hamilton County has 34%, Boone County has 33%, Hancock County has 29%, Shelby County has 28% and Madison County has 22% of households left to be verified.

Address canvassing will continue through mid-October. During the process, Census Bureau employees will be knocking on doors to ask a few questions to verify the address.

Data from the census, which is conducted every 10 years, is used to allocate federal funding, redistrict political boundaries and apportion Congressional seats among states.

Nearly $18 billion in federal funding for programs like Medicaid, food stamps and student loans is on the line for Indiana during the 2020 count.

For the first time in the history of the census, residents will have the ability to respond online next year. The census count starts in January in Alaska.

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