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US Census mobile computing: Boing Boing meets Sybase (almost)

Ethan Zukerman chats with a census worker and makes some notes about the handheld computer she is using. Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing links, and pokes fun at the chunky crapgadget used to conduct the 2010 US Census (the address canvassing part of it, to be precise). We’ll probably see more about the program on tech blogs as Census workers cover the entire US.

It’s true that HTC will win no prizes for style with this one, but there are good reasons for using a custom device if you want many cheap, rugged units and if you want privacy to be taken seriously (and you do). Plus, any project of this size takes a couple of years, so you can’t just order up tens of thousands of the latest consumer phone and hand them out. So I don’t take the blog jabs too seriously here.

The software doesn’t get much mention on today’s blog entries, but some of the software on the device comes from Sybase, as announced a couple of years ago. SQL Anywhere provides the mobile database and the data synchronization software that moves data back and forth between all those devices and the central data store, while Afaria is the device management software.

It’s been a big project, and now those folks are out all across the USA using them and it’s live, and that’s exciting.


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One Comment

  1. [...] and smart. So in the comments to Chunky crapgadget used to conduct the US census (kind of) [see my earlier post] you hear from people using the HTC devices and the Sybase software in the field. You can read all [...]

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