Zimbabwe National Statistics Director-General Mr Taguma Mahonde has said that our mobile phones will play a significant part in the mapping and collection of data during 2022’s census which is expected to cost $1.4 billion.
Given this background, Zimbabwe is focusing on following the global trend of the use of mobile devices for mapping and data collection.
All information collected during the census mapping exercise will be highly confidential and used for statistical purposes only.
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Without a specific explanation regarding how mobile devices will be used during the 2022 census, we can only look at how other countries have integrated mobile devices into the census process and assume that one of those methods will be used:
- In the US later this year, there will be a census and participants will be able to respond to the census online through a census mobile application. Participants who don’t respond via the app or mail will then have a community worker visit their home with the questions
- Scientists at the University of Namur in Belgium suggest using mobile data to identify where people live and go a step ahead and identify where they go since their mobile phone is always with them. Using the call records, the researchers developed a model to estimate population density around every phone tower from call density, taking into account variations in phone usage between high-coverage and low-coverage areas. The results showed clear trends in population dynamics across weeks and seasons that traditional survey-based censuses can’t reflect.
- India’s Census in 2021 will use a mobile app to capture data. Instead of the mobile app being installed by the broad population it will be installed by the enumerator, meaning even those without smartphones can participate easily. Enumerators choosing to use the app will be paid more than those that decide to use paper.
There will still be questions around the local implementation and the security of the data collected considering that this data could come in handy during election cycles – something we saw during the 2018 election.