#MRA_FOC #MRX Keynote Address: Robert Groves of US Census Bureau

Logo for the 2010 United States Census.

Image via Wikipedia

Robert started the session with his favourite 2010 US census story. One canvasser was assigned to a particularly rural route. She followed the driving directions and ended up going down one tiny dirty road after another even tinier dirt road. At one point, the road just stopped and turned into the tiniest walking trail. So, she picked up her briefcase and started walking. Eventually, way in the distance, she saw a log cabin and got excited. With instructions to place the bag of census materials on the door handle, she ventured forth to the front door. And there, already hanging on the door knob, was a census form… from the previous census, ten years earlier.

And now, some of my favourite points:

  • It costs 42 cents for a mailed back census form. It costs $57 to obtain census information for every household that does not mail the form back.
  • Every 1 percent increase in mail back rates saves 85 million dollars.
  • PSAs for the census generated 800,000,000 impressions, with Karl Rove being the most important speaker in them.
  • The US census website includes both positive and negative videos about the census.
  • They created a K-12 curriculum targeted to 56 million students and included take home materials which were translated into 28 languages. Why? Because students are influential in their parent’s behaviour, particularly those new to the US.
  • They do a test-retest design of a small portion of the data to examine the reliability of the information.
  • They allow proxy surveying if a household cannot be reached after 6 contacts, e.g., neighbour or landlord.
  • He admits that the census does burden people and interrupt their lives even though it’s in a small way. Those intrusions are for the good of everyone and you should participate.
  • “marginalia” is being read via scanners. People use the margins to comment on all kinds of relevant and irrelevant things.
  • Twitter and facebook will be gone in 2020 replaced with new fads. What!??!!
  • They are releasing the American Community Survey results very soon NOT the 2010 Census data. Do not confuse them. Tell your friends. Retweet/buzz/share.

Naomi must have got a big kick out of this presentation. Unfortunately, no one checked Robert’s presentation to see if all of the colours would show on the screen.They didn’t. :)

Note: Any errors here reflect my lack of listening skills.

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