In this latest episode of Location Intelligence, we discuss effective strategies and location intelligence solutions that can help national statistical offices overcome a myriad of census challenges.
JD: Hi, thanks for tuning into Location Intelligence on HxGN Radio. I’m your host, Justin Dinger. Census data is critical to helping government officials and policy makers understand the size, distribution, and diversity of a country’s population. It informs economic planning and development, future infrastructure projects, funding for various programmes, and more. But in many parts of the world, collecting and processing census data can be time-consuming, labour intensive and costly. In this episode, I’m talking to Dean McCormick, Global Head of Smart Monitoring and Census Solutions at Hexagon’s Geospatial division, and Hennie Loots, Director of Demographic Applications at GeoSpace International South Africa, about the challenges National Statistical Offices face when conducting a census. We’ll also discuss effective strategies and geospatial solutions to help them ensure that everyone is counted. Dean and Hennie, welcome to the podcast.
DM: Thanks Justin. Great to be here and really looking forward to this conversation.
HL: Thanks Justin and good day.
JD: Good day to you too. As we enter the 2020 round of censuses Dean, what do you see as some of the top census challenges that NSO’s face today?
DM: Great question. A great opening question, Justin. But I think before I answer, I think it’s worth reemphasising something that you had said in your introduction. And that really is that, population and housing census is as you say, a process that helps compile a numerical profile of a country, which of course is critically important, because the captured data in other words the demographic, the social and economic data really helps to inform policies and decision-making at all levels of government, as well as private sector. And of course, quality policy and quality decision-making, will be dependent on quality data. Now, having said that, whilst by definition it sounds really simple, in reality a census is extremely difficult and challenging to execute. So, for National Statistical Offices or NSO’s, whose task it is to deliver a census, I think without question, it continues to be the largest, most complex and costly undertaking. And so, with that in mind, and with respect to your question, I think whilst there are many challenges we can talk about, I believe one of the biggest really is to balance the need to provide quality data whilst at the same time managing rising costs. Particularly in the face of population growth and increased pressures on public finances. And so, to illustrate this by way of example, let’s consider the United States and the US Census Bureau, which is currently conducting a census. But first let’s look back to 1970 and the US population and housing census and the real-time cost. It was calculated to be around 3.2 billion US dollars to count a population at that time of around 203 million people. In 2020, the final bill to the taxpayer is expected to be around 15.6 billion, this for a population of today around 330 million people. So, whilst the population has increased by around 60% if my math is correct, over the past four census cycles, the real term per capita cost has risen significantly more, around 195% in fact, from around $16 in 1970 to around $47 per capita for the 2020 census. Of course, we have to realise that per capita cost will vary from country to country, but the reality is the trend remains the same for all NSO’s in terms of rising costs that they are having to experience today. And if census budgets were not already under tremendous pressure, the situation in 2020 has been made worse by the impact of COVID-19. Now we are seeing governments really taking a hard look and really rethinking the allocation of funding and resources, which were previously earmarked for census, more towards public health responses in the fight against COVID. And so consequently, this is leading NSO’s to really consider either a postponement or cancellation of censuses. Of course, notwithstanding the financial implications, there are implications regarding the health and wellbeing of both citizens and census workers in the face of this terrible pandemic. So, faced with these challenges NSO’s are having to investigate alternative ways of implementing a census. And I believe COVID-19 will be a game changer, and will almost certainly help to fast track that effort for many NSO’s.
JD: Thank you, Dean. I have a follow-up question. If we see that NSO’s are delaying or diverting or rethinking how they do a census, what do you see as the long-term effect or impact of say a census being delayed or diverted? Any thoughts on that?
HL: As a rule, countries normally stick either to a 10 years cycle to the day, the exact day or a five-year cycle. Going exactly to the same date every five years or every 10 years. The reason for that being the importance or the big benefit of doing cohort analysis, age grouping analysis of the population over time. So, for example, if you track the geographic spread of the 10 to 14 year old population, or the 20 to 24 year old population in a country over time, then it means if you conduct a census every 10 years and then you follow the 10 to 14 year old population in one census, it will be the 20 to 24 year old population in the next census. It is exactly that same population that you are then tracking over time. So, they are huge benefits if you can stick to the same census and of course also the same census date, because that make these cohort type of analysis a lot more accurate.
JD: Thank you, Hennie. Yeah, I was just thinking to myself, “Well, if things are delayed, does that skew what the statistic office would maybe capture or be able to interpret as it does its longitudinal assessment on certain cohorts as they grow, expand, contract or move around within a country?” So, thank you. So, Hennie, I’ve got another question for you. The UN projects that by 2050, two thirds of the world’s population will live in urban areas. More than half of the global population growth is expected to occur in Africa, and populations in Europe are expected to decline. So, Hennie, do these predictions make the current challenges worse, or do they create a whole new set of issues for National Statistical Office?
HL: Justin, what you have mentioned now are examples of exactly how dynamic the nature of population dynamics are. There’s a lot of change within countries, within regions and within continents, and then when you compare continents with each other. And it is exactly because of this dynamic nature of population trends, that it is imperative to conduct censuses on a regular basis, to enable governments to get a proper grip on the demographics of a country over time, and that is obviously required for optimal relevant policy formulation. And as modern technology becomes more affordable and accessible, more countries are utilising modern methods such as, for example, digital enumeration. In this current round, the 2020 round of censuses, in most regions in the world, even in the poorest regions in Sub-Saharan Africa, countries are adopting methods like digital enumeration. Now these methods are likely to improve the overall quality of censuses. For example, if you do digital enumeration, you, in a way, eliminate that intermediate phase where you have to capture a hard copy questionnaire using data entry methods. So, it improves the overall quality of a census, while at the same time also shortening the time between the count and the release of the final results. That obviously might the results a lot more useful and relevant, because it is more current.
JD: To follow up, Hennie when I was doing research for this podcast, I noticed that GeoSpace was the main service provider for the pre-numeration phase of a number of censuses in the Southern Africa region. In fact, GeoSpace has a lot of experience in the census domain. Over the past two decades, what have been some of the more successful census strategies that you’ve seen or helped NSO’s implement?
HL: The first NSO that GeoSpace supported was the Statistical Agency here in South Africa where we are based, Statistics South Africa, and that was actually more than 20 years ago in 1997, ’98. We assisted Stats SA with the establishment of their first actually digital enumeration area database for the so-called informal areas of South Africa. Now informal areas here in South Africa and many countries actually refer to areas of the country. It can be both urban and non-urban. So here in South Africa for example, we have traditional areas in rural parts of the country. You can say traditional tribal areas, they are not met. And then also the informal settlements in the bigger towns and cities. So back in ’97, ’98, we used various methods, satellite imagery, aerial photography, aet cetera together with GPS, to assist Stats SA to actually map these informal areas. So, that’s where it started. So, one can say that our initial focus was, therefore, strongly on pre-enumeration census mapping. That is really where it all started. After that project, the company has been involved in the pre-enumeration census mapping projects of 2001. The 2001 census as well as the 2011 census exactly 10 years, and also Tanzania, 2002 and 2012. And Lesotho, 2006 and 2016. And by the way, 2016 Lesotho census used, you can say the earlier version of what is today known as HxGN Smart Census, first country to actually use it. The company also supported statistics of Africa in 2001 and 2011 censuses, but to a lesser extent than the other countries in the region where we really provided a type of pre-enumeration mapping solution. Now our main contribution was in essence to provide these NSO’s with is to gather and process field mapping data during pre-enumeration mapping, in order to generate the enumeration area maps that are required for the enumerators, the interviewers to use during the actual enumeration phase of the census, that’s the time when the actual count takes place. Now with the advent of Smart Census, we obviously can now offer a total solution covering all the phases of the census, being pre-enumeration that I’ve already mentioned, and then enumeration, and then also analysis and dissemination. In other words, the entire census life cycle.
JD: Dean, I have a similar question. With the census solutions that Hexagon has implemented, what are some of the more successful census strategies that you’ve seen or helped in NSO’s execute an implement?
DM: Another good question Justin. But first and foremost, I think it really goes back to my concluding comments to your opening question to me at least. And that is really to help NSO’s modernise and transform their traditional methods and approaches to conducting a census. At Hexagon, our core focus and strategy really has been, and continues to be, to provide digital solutions to support digital transformation efforts for our customers. With respect to NSO’s and census, we see our core strategy really being to support them in migrating from traditional paper and pen-based workflows towards digital-oriented workflows. And so, by taking this approach, NSO’s have seen tremendous benefit. For example, through reduced workloads, reduction in workforce, improved efficiencies, cost reduction and importantly, and very critically, improved quality of data. So, very much aligned to addressing the challenges of cost management, without compromising data quality, which I had previously highlighted. Of course, the adoption of digital platforms aligned will not achieve this, and before improvements can be made, there’s also a need to really fully understand how existing workflows are implemented. And so, to this end, Hexagon teamed up with Hennie and the folks from GeoSpace, really to leverage their experience and expertise in the census domain, which they’ve gained over at least three rounds of censuses. So, they have decades of experience under their belts. The end results of this collaboration has really seen the development of our Smart Census platform, which I’m really proud to say has been adopted by several NSO’s, to address their digital census workflow requirements across all census phases, that being pre numeration, enumeration, as well as dissemination. And perhaps I could exemplify this a little further. So, with Statistics Botswana and Lesotho Bureau of Statistics, they’ve seen improvements in efficiencies, particularly when it comes to pre-numeration cartography. Again, this is the phase during which enumeration area maps are produced. Whereas previously demanded extensive field work and manual drawing on paper, they now make use of computer-assisted map production tools to produce quality digital enumeration area maps. And with regard to enumeration for their 2021 census, we have been assisting the National Statistical Institute of Bulgaria to implement more modern digital data capture methods, such as a so-called CAPI, which means or stands for computer-assisted personal interviewing, as well as CAWI methodologies which the latter typically being used for self-enumeration. And through adopting these methodologies, we’re helping the Bulgarian National Statistical Institute to help drive down their costs through workload and workforce reduction. They’re using features like logic cheques and validation rules by implementing these methodologies, which really helps to ensure a higher quality of data output. Also, we’re seeing significant savings in time by eliminating the need for data cleansing, which would otherwise be required using more traditional paper-based methods. And just a further comment on CAWI or computer-assisted web interviewing. In particular, it’s really helping to safeguard respondents, as well as field crew during the coronavirus epidemic. Since now respondents can perform self-enumeration in the confident safety of their own home. And finally, just some comments around dissemination. We are supporting the National Statistical Office of Malawi with the Smart Census dissemination module to be more effective in the way they are disseminating data that emanated from the 2018 Population and Housing Census for Malawi. This module really enables users to more easily create dynamic tables, graphs, and thematic maps by connecting to different data sources. It also allows them to select different themes, such as themes around sustainable development goals, as well as different geographies. The end result of this is that they are able to deliver more of a dynamic display of census and other statistical data, which can then facilitate better decision-making. So, really to conclude, our strategy behind the development of Smart Census has been to modernise, streamline, and digitally transform the traditional approach of census data collection, management, as well as dissemination.
JD: Yeah, I think that leads me to my next question. And both of you, Hennie and Dean, you’ve both talked about HxGN Smart Census. So, what makes a census smart? We use terms like digital enumeration and computer-aided interviewing and these things. So, as governments undergo digital transformation, and as National Statistical Offices also undergo that transformation, what makes a census technology and process smart? And then also, can you give me an overview and an introduction to what HxGN Smart Census is for someone who may be listening, and doesn’t really know what that technology is?
HL: Thanks, Justin. I’m going to answer the question. What makes a census smart? By maybe putting a problem statement out first, and then respond to that in terms of what makes a census smart. If you look at how censuses were conducted in the past, in the previous rounds of censuses, they will usually… and this is a blanket statement that applies by and large globally. You have different units within the National Statistical Office being tasked and being responsible for the different phases of a census. So, I mentioned earlier, you have pre-enumeration, and then you have enumeration – the actual count. And then in the past we used data processing where the questionnaires were converted to digital, and then that was followed by the last phase of analysis and dissemination, which ultimately renewed the census of the publications etc. But as a consequence of this approach, the different units often tend to work in silos. So, they don’t communicate with each other when they plan their respective parts, or they at least do not communicate enough. So, you end up with disparate systems being used by the different units with inner census agency, and that really had a huge impact on the overall quality of a census. Now, what make a census smart is, if one can be able to combine all relevant technologies into a single platform that covers all the phases of the census. These phases that I mentioned earlier, this in doing so, one will address the silo effect that I mentioned earlier, and it will also enable a much better management of the entire workforce of a census during all the phases. And it will also facilitate optimal data collection, since that’s during all the phase as well as the execution, and also the management of the data. Because all the users in the office and in the field, work on the same database during all the phases of the census. So, I would say if one can manage to achieve that, then you would have a Smart Census.
DM: Okay, I think if I could just elaborate it a little bit further and I think Hennie has answered it fairly comprehensively. I’d just like to emphasise more on the technology itself. We’ve included for example, workflow workforce management component. And for me, I think it’s through the adoption of these kinds of technologies within the platform and within Smart Census, this is really helping National Statistical Offices to better manage and guide literally tens if not hundreds of thousands of temporary workers. These are workers who are employed, particularly during the enumeration phase for a very short period of time who are not necessarily familiar with the workflows or with these kind of surveys. But to help them to be guided to collect what is essentially critical data that as I mentioned before, really helps to inform policy and decision-making, which of course is vitally important for future development of a country. So, in essence, just to elaborate again on what Hennie said, if we can make that happen, which I believe we’ve managed to achieve with Smart Census, then that ultimately makes the solution smart. Now, Justin to address your question of what is Smart Census and how can I best describe that and give an overview around its capabilities. I’ve already alluded to some of the capabilities in terms of addressing some of your earlier questions, but let me elaborate further. I think firstly, by definition, what we are talking about here is a client service software platform, which has been specifically developed for census and large-scale sample surveys. But besides utilisation for a population and housing census NSO’s, and I can use the example of Statistics South Africa, who have used components of Smart Census for an agricultural and livestock survey or more specifically their census for commercial agricultural survey. So, they’re using it for that, but as well as for intercensal surveys, but not withstanding that the platform can also be used to maintain and update enumeration area maps, as well as the so-called dwelling unit frame, between the census cycles. Just for the uninformed, the dwelling unit frame is essentially a register of a location, as well as characteristics of dwellings within a country. Importantly, the solution can also combine traditional GIS functionality and it’s fair to say, Hexagon has a long and rich history in terms of GIS products and development around GIS. And we combine that with configurable and flexible workflow and workforce management, which ultimately provides a total solution covering the entire census life cycle from planning, management, and execution. An important distinction I’d like to make at this point is that, we do not see ourselves as simply another vendor selling licences of GIS and related products to National Statistical Offices. But with Smart Census what we have really is a purpose-built census solution which as I’ve mentioned before, is backed up by decades of domain expertise, thanks to GeoSpace. It’s a solution which is already proven to meet the demands, and, of course, the rigours of delivering a national population and housing census across all census phases. Just to elaborate a little bit further about the platform and how we deliver the product. We have adopted really a modular approach. So, we have three modules, each of which caters for the different phases. And so, I’ll just describe some of the capability. With pre- enumeration, we are able to combine digital base imagery and map production tools with again, workflow workforce management, to create and maintain quality digital enumeration area maps and dwelling unit frames. With the enumeration module, we provide tools to allow for the planning, the management and execution, as well as the monitoring of the enumeration phase. So, enumeration area mapping teams can be set up and EAs assigned to each of the field crew who are responsible for those enumeration areas. And using a platform agnostic approach, we have a mobile app, whereby each enumerator has the ability to access tools using a mobile device, to facilitate that navigation, to households to conduct interviews via the CAPI method, which I previously described. We can either provide a bespoke CAPI solution, customised to the needs of the National Statistics Office, or we can integrate third-party platforms such as CSPro from the US Census Bureau or survey solutions from the World Bank, which are commonly used. All work can be done in the field, in both the connected or disconnected mode. And with our latest release, we have implemented support for self-enumeration via the CAWI method and included support for so-called CATI or computer-assisted telephonic interview, with both of these methodologies coming clearly into sharper focus in lieu of the impact of COVID. Besides support for digital data capture methodologies, we also provide near real-time dynamic monitoring and progress reporting tools, in order for census management teams to have more of a realistic view of the enumeration operation. And finally, just a comment on the dissemination module. NSO’s are now able to take advantage of what we call our Smart M.App technology, which allows them to then configure dynamic interactive dashboards to view census data in a more, let’s say easily digestible way. In other words, data can be viewed as graphs and charts against the backdrop of spatially linked maps. And then these dashboards of information can either be made publicly available, or within a secure environment. They can be accessed. Important to also add that we can include the ability to link newly captured data with historical data for time series analysis, which we see as being important in terms of monitoring the so-called sustainable development goals.
JD: Thank you, Dean. So, Hennie my next question. Dean talked about the CAPI and the CAWI and the CATI methods. Why would some NSO’s decide to pick one method over another? And are NSO’s using a multi-method approach to capture census data?
HL: Yes Justin. Most countries are using multi-method approach, that is not only different methods, but it also involves multiple vendors and technologies. So, at this moment in time, it is actually very rare for a country to do adopt only one to utilise only one technology involving only one vendor. And I’ll elaborate a bit now why this is the case, but that’s obviously a challenge for us, because we actually cover all the basis. We do provide a total solution. But some of the reasons why they use a combination of different technologies include there are many of them, but it’s firstly a fear of new or alternative technology. So, they rather use what they are used to than to try something new. It works or even might not work optimally, but it’s better to use something that you are familiar with than to try something new. And then there’s also the element of established loyalty to certain brands or vendors, even though no competitor of ours can to my knowledge provide a total solution that compares to Smart Census. And then a further thing to keep in mind is related to the fear of new alternative technology, is the notion that a census is not an ideal opportunity to implement radically new methods and technology. So, there’s an inherent hesitation or restraint of NSO’s to adopt new technologies. Now, the way around that is, and I fully agree, you have to be very careful when you conduct a census. Dean mentioned earlier the cost of a census. It’s the biggest statistical data collection exercise that a country conducts. So, you have to be very careful that you use tried and tested methods, tried and tested within the organisation. So, what we promote strongly is that NSO’s actually adopt a platform, use the platform for smaller surveys. And together with that updating of the dwelling unit frame or the census photography, using the Smart Census platform. So, it becomes a test application, while they conduct smaller surveys that can be more easily managed if something goes wrong. Then the last reason that I would say why countries use different technologies and different methods, one can perhaps call it the legacy effect. You know I mentioned earlier the silo effect where historically these different units within the NSO were only responsible for a certain part, the second phase of the census. So, that resulted in a situation where these different units only seek solutions and technologies that could provide answers to their specific phase of the census, be it pre-enumeration, enumeration, or whatever the case might be, rather than focusing on a total solution. Even though the current trend is to have a more integrated approach, this legacy effect still hampers many census efforts where the different unit still struggle to actually work together on a single integrated platform as we promote.
JD: I’d like to take a second to discuss enumeration. And Dean, you and Hennie both have talked about COVID-19 and I want to go back and look at the CAPI method. And in the age of COVID-19, how are NSO’s expected to handle census data collection in rural or hard to reach locations, and still practise social distancing and minimise the risk of taking the virus into those hard to reach rural areas or bringing it back with them should they get it out in the field? Any thoughts on that?
DM: Yeah, I think Justin maybe I can provide an opening comment. I think without question; the pandemic is a significant threat to all countries that are due to conduct or planning to conduct a census. And those threats are either through delays, interruptions that will impact quality or the worst case scenario, a complete cancellation of census projects. These are difficult decisions facing more than, at least by current estimates, more than 100 countries who are expected to deliver a census in 2020 and 2021. If you look at the current 2020 round of census expectations. On the other hand, the importance of having up-to-date accurate population data is even more critical at this time. Not only for development, but also for addressing global health emergencies such as COVID-19. So, for example, governments, they have an urgent need now especially for up-to-date knowledge of population densities in major cities, as these are locations clearly where one can expect high transmission rates. In addition, there are elevated case fatality rates amongst older populations, which demand knowledge of where older people are clustered. Also, data is needed to inform the location of catchment areas, so that emergency facilities, medical facilities can be provided. So, in light of this, the United Nations in fact, and in particular UNFPA, who are typically offering technical and financial support for censuses to many developing countries, in their technical brief on the implication of COVID-19, which they published in March of this year, their advice was that rather than cancel the census, they are encouraging NSO’s to consider the adoption of alternative methodologies that support social distancing. So, consequently, and this may not be the case for every single country, because it’s dependent on infrastructure, it’s dependent on literacy levels, etc. But of course, internet-based data collection methodologies such as computer-aided web interview methodologies for self-enumeration, coupled with telephonic interview methods such as CATI, again as I previously defined. Both of these can be supported today by Smart Census, and can certainly help to safeguard and overcome some of the challenges that we see with COVID-19 today. So that would be my spin on things.
HL: Yeah. And I can maybe add to what Dean has said. In the past, the United Nations or really in particularly United Nations Statistics Division, they actually determined the rules and recommendations for censuses, how to conduct it, the textbooks. In the last few years, acknowledged that if you take conflict areas for example, countries that has been in civil war for many years, where it was simply impossible to conduct censuses for long time, that one needs to look at alternative methods to actually do population estimates. And when we talk of COVID, and we look at Smart Census, Smart Census enables one to actually, where required for example, consider something like a sample-based enumeration in rural areas where it might be difficult to apply, for example, web interviews well, by and large impossible. But rather than completely or to try and do a complete enumeration, one can do a sample enumeration and then impute population statistics for the entire area and the like for like basis. In a similar way to what the methods that are being used, let’s say in conflict areas, that are now being promoted actually by the UN. Now, Smart Census enables one. It’s got the flexibility that you can actually apply these methods if that is what you decide to do as part of your strategy to conduct a census within the COVID environment, and a last remark on this is it is actually ironical but, during a time like COVID, the importance of a census and the automation that a census can provide, is even more important under normal circumstances. So rather than postponing it, and that’s what many countries are doing, once you’d rather look at alternative methods that might not imply fully enumeration everywhere, but you get the valuable statistics that can be used for proper planning for COVID and obviously the normal development agenda in a country.
JD: Thank you Hennie. And so, after all of this sensitive data is collected, Hexagon Smart Census has a dynamic map building phase. What types of maps are NSO’s able to create with the data that they collect?
DM: Great question, Justin. And I’ve previously mentioned this, but, ultimately, what we are leveraging here is what we call at Hexagon, Smart M.App technology which really helps NSO’s to configure custom census data dissemination dashboards. So, configured dashboards are typically driven by themes, which themselves are guided by so-called sustainable development goals or STGs that I’ve previously alluded to. And perhaps at this point maybe, let me just describe what SDGs are. These are essentially 17 goals that were adopted by United Nation member States back in 2015, which is essentially a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and also to ensure that all citizens of member nations enjoy peace and prosperity. And these goals are to be achieved by 2030. Now, census data is typically critical to monitoring the progress towards achieving these goals. So just for example, you can go onto the UN website for STGs and you will see goals one and two, which essentially are aimed at eliminating for example poverty and hunger. And without dissemination module, NSO’s can configure interactive dashboards to indicate disparities in poverty and hunger levels across regions, communities and different demographics and where most prevalent, this can then inform policies that need to be implemented to help reduce and eliminate poverty and hunger. Now, progress towards achieving these goals can then be assessed using time series analysis tools. We can do cross-cutting analysis between these themes, which is also possible. So, in essence, our dissemination module enables NSO’s to configure quite easily, dynamic dashboards that meet the specific requirements of a country.
JD: How do our customers typically use these maps? I know we are saying, this is how it can be used, but do we have any examples or use cases where we know that a particular country or NSO that is a customer of ours, how are they using this data and what types of Smart M.Apps are they building?
HL: Justin, as Dean mentioned earlier, we are in the process currently of customising the Smart Census dissemination module for the government of Malawi. And the reason being they have a very specific requirement in terms of their users and how it evolved over time. And we are now customising the platform, to meet those specific requirements. Now, what it implies just to give some insight is that the maps that Dean mentioned earlier, are in fact combined with a whole range of different types of graphs and tables on this specially customised Smart M.App application. So, this combination of graphs and tables and maps are then used as a tool for policy formulation, at the level of central government and even at regional government. And then at local government, the stats are used for the actual implementation of operational plans that are obviously derived from the policy document, developed at those higher spheres of government. And that, ultimately, drives the development agenda of the country. Now, if you take ministries for example, like health and education, they can combine the census results with their statistics, so that you can actually fuse the two, and then they can enhance their decision-making. So, if you take the two data sets separate, they are of less value, than when you combine the two together. So, in the case of Malawi for example, we are not only providing a platform for the dissemination of their 2018 census results, but rather a platform that also enables ministries like health, education, etc., it covers a wide range of topics, different data sets, different sources of data, and also time series of data. So, it’s not only the last census, it includes earlier censuses as well. Everything on a single platform that then enables the users at different tiers of government and also even private sector, the development partners in the country to actually have a single platform where they can utilise the data optimally for their specific needs. So, I guess the take home here is, it is highly customisable, and not only limited to the usual standard census.
JD: Thank you, Hennie. It sounds like there’s a lot of potential and a lot of great things that local governments and also national governments can really glean from being able to leverage the census data. I guess I have a few closing questions for the both of you. Dean, really, are there any closing thoughts or ideas that you’d like to share with the listeners? Maybe any key takeaways they should think about from this podcast?
DM: Thanks Justin. Yeah. And firstly, just to say, I appreciate the opportunity to contribute towards this discussion. I think in terms of closing thoughts and comments, one thing that I’d really like to do is emphasise the fact that despite perception, Hexagon is a technology company. We are certainly no strangers to the world of census. And that’s really largely thanks to the relationship, the partnership that we’ve established with GeoSpace International. And it’s without them and their domain expertise that perhaps we wouldn’t be where we are in terms of the success of Smart Census. So, in that regard, I’m really proud to say that, and I’ve alluded to some of them previously, we’ve been involved in several census projects in the past. And we very much look forward to continuing to support NSO’s, particularly as they embark on the 2020 round of census. And to that end, we have put a lot of focus on ensuring that we have a network of trained partners who are really well positioned to support our Smart Census solution, wherever there is interest or demand and I’m really pleased to say that we are already seeing growing interest in many parts of the world, particularly Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, Central and South America. That is obviously over and above the traction that we have within Africa, which is where it all started. That said, and in addition to what I’ve just mentioned, I would like to also briefly state that we have and continue to engage with other partners. And in that regard, I mean content partners in order to provide value add to our existing census platform. So, these partners include satellite imagery vendors who provide both high and medium resolution satellite imagery for base mapping, which of course is a critical need for the pre-enumeration phase. And in that regard, we have reached agreements with Airbus Defense and Space to take their imagery and combine that with our census platform and to offer a complete solution, bringing both content and software to NSO’s to support them in their census operations. And finally, from my side, we recognise that funding is a problem and can be a problem. And I’ve already highlighted that some of the challenges today with COVID. And of course, NSO’s are having to try to meet those challenges with budgets under constant scrutiny and consequently, we have established a highly flexible pricing model, which is really designed to meet the unique needs and challenges of NSO’s, covering both census applications, as well as large field surveys. And so, for more specifics around some of the partnerships that I’ve mentioned with Airbus or in terms of the pricing model that we have established, I would encourage anybody listening to reach out to your local Hexagon representative. So, yeah, those are my final thoughts and comments.
JD: Thank you, Dean. And Hennie, very similar question. Is there anything that we didn’t cover as part of this discussion that you’d like to discuss?
HL: Justin, maybe not things that we haven’t covered already, but I would perhaps just like to highlight in conclusion some of the things that to me really makes Smart Census unique. And I’d firstly like to say the fact that it provides the total solution and covers the entire census cycle from start to finish. We’ve touched on it before, but I think this is really a very unique feature of Smart Census. And then the second standout feature that makes Smart Census really powerful is the flexibility of the platform that enables it to be configured for different types of censuses and surveys. You get for example population and housing census, but you also get agricultural and livestock census. You can have a business census. There are different types of censuses and surveys. And this platform can be configured for any of these using different types of questionnaires and methods of enumeration. So, because of this, this characteristic enables the NSO’s with the opportunity to test the platform in surveys, before implementing it in a large scale population and housing census environment. I would say these are my concluding remarks. Thank you.
JD: Thank you. I’d like to say a big thank you to Dean McCormick and Hennie Loots. Look forward to having you back on Location Intelligence.
HL: Thank you very much.
DM: Thanks Justin. Really appreciate it.
JD: Definitely. Would love to have you guys back. Thank you for tuning in to Location Intelligence on HxGN Radio. For more great stories and podcasts, visit hxgnspotlight.com.