Circle Case study

Ireland’s Census 2016

Capturing the bigger picture

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) collects, collates, analyses and shares statistical information about Ireland’s population and its economy, and is responsible for co-ordinating official statistics produced by other public bodies.

The challenge

The Irish Census is a massive undertaking – 4 years of planning, data that has to be processed within a 6 month window, and first reports published in less than a year. It involves managing and administering a temporary workforce of over 5,000, ensuring 2.8 million forms are distributed and collected across Ireland, and that completed data from 50 million page images is processed quickly and confidentially. The design and printing of forms is of paramount importance to encourage completion of questionnaires, as is an advanced infrastructure to extract and code the data as quickly and accurately as possible.

The solution

CACI worked with CSO to manage and process the 2016 Census (CACI’s 4th Irish Census project). The project required optimised form design to support automated recognition software used to read and code the data, and a fully configured and tuned IT infrastructure, including servers, switches and high speed scanners. The project started in September 2014 with Census Day on 24th April 2016. Preliminary results were delivered on 14th July 2016, all forms processed by 16th December 2016, and the first Census reports published on 6th April 2017.

The results

All 2.8 million census questionnaires were processed two weeks ahead of schedule. Processing was completed by fewer operators than for the 2011 Census, despite capturing more data per person. Comprehensive business rules ensured the quality of the data, and these could be refined as processing progressed. Security was guaranteed by operating within a closed environment.

“A census is the largest project undertaken by any statistics office and is a huge investment, justified only by the timeliness, completeness and quality of the data.”
Cormac Halpin, Central Statistics Office