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Automized Census using HHD. THE CENSUS HISTORY IN OMAN. In December 2003, the Sultanate of Oman conducted the second population and housing census ever in its modern history.

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Automized census using hhd l.jpg

Automized Census using HHD


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THE CENSUS HISTORY IN OMAN

  • In December 2003, the Sultanate of Oman conducted the second population and housing census ever in its modern history.

  • Similar to the previous practice of 1993 Census, the 2003 Census programme also included a general comprehensive census of establishments.


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ADMINISTRATIVE DIVISIONS

  • The Sultanate of Oman is divided into (8) administrative divisions of which (3) are called Governorates (Muhafaza) and the other (5) are called Regions (Mantiqa).

  • Every administrative division is divided into sub-divisions, each called a (Wilayat), within which population settlements (Cities, villages, …etc)

  • The capital city of Muscat is one of the three Governorates mentioned above. Each of its Wilayat is sub-divided into municipality block each called (Moujamma).


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  • For census purposes, all population settlements in the Sultanate (including the municipality blocks of Muscat governorate) were divided by the census cartographers into smaller sections called census blocks.

  • Hence, census blocks were grouped into enumeration areas (90-120 household/housing units).

CENSUS DIVISIONS


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PRELIMINARY INVESTIGATIONS

The rapid advancement in the area of Information Technology around the world, and ambition to provide high quality data, lead the census administration to consider the use of technology in the various aspects of the census taken. Below are some of the techniques examined:

  • Scanners:

    • Saves time and effort (data entry).

    • Used in case of large population size.

    • Requires special equipments during operation.


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2. Lap Top:

  • Size and weight

  • High cost

    3. Handheld Device (HHD):

  • Appropriate size and price

  • Available in the market and used as a personal organizer


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THE SELECTION

Due to the relatively small population size in Oman (which is a little over 2 millions), and in order to provide timely and high quality data, HHD were selected to be used in the General Population, Housing and Establishment Census 2003.


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  • ADVANTAGES OF USING HHD

  • (ASSUMED)

  • Data collection and data entry processes are merged, hence, reducing time and manpower.

  • Coding of close-ended questions is done automatically.

  • Speeds up the data collection process.

  • Provides high levels of quality and precision.


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  • Reduces the time required to process data through eliminating the data entry process, thus allowing prompt retrieval and publication of reports.

  • Eliminates the storing and handling of questionnaires.

  • Reduces paper use.


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THE DEVICE

It is an electronic device available in the market and is used as an organizer. The touch screen constitutes ¾ of the device and the buttons are used to activate application programs and to save data.


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THE COMPONENTS

The Stylus

A writing and data entry device. It was used successfully in the enumeration process.

The Wheel

Can be used instead of the stylus to perform many operations, such as; browsing, selecting and activating icons.


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External Memory

A memory card for extra storage space.

Cover

Soft leather cover to protect the screen from breaking, dirt, dust and sunlight.

Battery

Similar to what is found in most cellular phones.


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SELECTION CRITERIA

Several criteria were set for the selection of the appropriate device:

  • Support Arabic version.

  • User friendly.

  • Battery life should last at least 8 working hours.

  • Ability to recharge the battery in the field.

  • Ability to retrieve saved information in case of any technical problem.

  • Enough memory to store data for (110) households (average size of households 8 persons).

  • Easy to carry and handle.


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ELECTRONIC QUESTIONNAIRE CRITERIA

  • User friendly.

  • Bilingual (Arabic and English).

  • Incorporates fields editing schemes.

  • Warns the enumerator in case response to required

    questions was not given.

  • Skips irrelevant questions.

  • Possibility to review, modify or delete data.

  • Does not allow data repetition.


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TO USE OR NOT TO USE THE HHD THAT IS THE QUESTION

  • The decision to use the HHD in data collection was taken after conducting several tests to ensure their capability to perform the required tasks.

  • During the period since the decision to use the device was taken and till conducting the actual count, many modifications were introduced on the system and programmes to suit the census needs.


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The first experiment: September – October 2002

Two devices were used, the PALM 130 and PALM 500 with a capacity of 8 MB. The first experiment focused on the following:

  • To examine the capability of the HHD in data collection.

  • To select the appropriate software company.


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  • The second experiment: June – July 2003

  • It was conducted after selecting the appropriate company and focused on:

    • Identifying the problems and obstacles that may be encounteredand finding out the appropriate solutions.

    • Identifying human resources and training materials needed.


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COVERAGE

Three options were considered for the use of HHD:

  • To be used at the national level.

  • To be used in any governorate or region.

  • To be used in two Wilayat selected, one from Muscat governorate and the second one from other regions.


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It was decided to use the device in the capital city of Muscat due to the following reasons:

  • First time to use HHD in census.

  • Easy access to any part of Muscat governorate within 15 minutes from the technical support center.

  • The availability of training facilities in Muscat governorate.

  • The availability of sufficient number of devices in the market.


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THE SCREENS

The questions were divided across several screens, each containing a set of questions related to a certain topic, such as:

  • Individuals general characteristics.

  • Data on school enrollment.


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Individuals General Characteristics

School Enrollment


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EDITING RULES AND FIELD PROGESS REPORTS

First: Rules pertaining to the appearance of the screens and questions.

Designed to organize the appearance of the relevant screens and questions either by age, nationality or gender.


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RULES FOR THE APPEARANCE OF THE RELEVANT

SCREENS AND QUESTIONS

Occupied

Not occupied

Closed


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Second: Editing rules

Warning messages will show in case of an error in the collected data item, and/or if it’s inconsistent with any of the preceding items.


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Error messages

Warning Messages


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  • Third: Daily progress reports

    The enumerator was allowed (if necessary) to skip certain questions without filling them out, in order not to delay the field work.

    The following progress reports were generated on a daily basis:

  • Assistant supervisors report by crew-leader:

    Includes the total number of housing, households and individuals.


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2. Crew-leader report:

Includes several reports of the enumerators:

1. General report on the number of housing, households and individuals.

2. List of closed and unoccupied housing.

3. List of individuals’ records with missing data.

4. List of deleted housing, households and individuals


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3. Enumerators reports and it includes:

- Detailed reports on housing, households and individuals - Progress reports on incomplete and inconsistent

enumeration units:

1. Report showing incomplete units.

2. Detailed report showing incomplete data.

3. Report containing detailed list on unmatched data, not obeying the pre-set electronic rules.

4. Report on unmatched occupation and economic activities.


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LIST OF THE DETAILED CLASSIFICATION

Two levels of classification lists on occupation, economic activity and educational level were prepared: a short and a detailed one. This was based on the data derived from the results of the 1993 Census and the data available from other relevant sources.

In case the data item was not found in either the short or the detailed list, it was entered manually by the enumerator.


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OCCUPATION CLASSIFICATION LIST(SHORT AND DETAILED)


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ECONOMIC ACTIVITY CLASSIFICATION LIST(SHORT AND DETAILED)


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ECONOMIC ACTIVITY CLASSIFICATION LIST(SHORT AND DETAILED)


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FIELD REQUIREMENTS

Several necessary field requirements were provided like:

  • The Census administration designed a pigeon-hole cabinet for the easy charging of the HHD which had to be done on a daily basis.

  • A briefcase was especially designed for each crew-leader to accommodate all the HHDs as well as to preserve them from scratch, breaking or loss.

  • A holder was designed for the enumerator to hold HHD, a calculator and a notebook for easy use.


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FIELD PROBLEMS

This delay caused certain problems that can be summarized as follows:

  • The batteries of some devices ran out of power in a short time while the enumerator was in the field.

  • The screen of certain devices did not respond to stylus taps.

  • Some of the devices would turn off.

  • Some devices had to be reset, in which case the enumerator had to enter the language selection program to restart the device.


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  • Some response sets would disappear from the screen when tapping by mistake at any of the responses.

  • Some devices did not accept the username and password as well as the reference number and enumeration unit number even if correctly entered.


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  • Early planning to ensure:

    • Proper selection of enumerators.

    • Designing accurate software programs and quality control rules.

  • Establish sound proof rules to reduce errors in data entry, such as:

    • Double entry

    • Confirmation (voice or written).

RECOMMENDATIONS


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  • Provide solutions for handling long classifications as in economic activities and occupations.

  • The field census organization should be set-up in a way to suit the use of HHD.


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Thank You


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