Saturday, August 1, 2020

Walking the Census in 2020

I started doing Census questions door to door in the past week.

July 2020, United States of America.

I took an oath to keep all personal information confidential, for life. What follows in this post are my notes and comments about the "business process" of using current technology to accomplish the count as has been done for centuries (well two-ish).

I am assigned cases each day, with the goal being to ask the standard questions and collect as many answers as possible. We are issued a digital device that is a common smartphone with certain apps installed and nearly everything else disabled. There is a case list, with an associated map app. There's another common map app, which works to get from point A to point B only. Then it's back to the Census apps.

The biggest ouch I've encountered is not being able to start a survey from a mapped location; I need to return to the case list and open from there. If the place I'm looking for isn't in the top few visible, the device seems to spin for a while. In some cases, I can't get to the place I am next to. Disconcerting?

I've tried different combinations of driving and walking. There's a small incentive to drive because I get mileage reimbursement, so small as not to matter yet. If I get cases further away, I'll get better mileage overall. One of the days I was able to walk the entire route. Not much progress because of rain, heat and humidity.

Knowing the way cul-de-sacs and streets are numbered is handier than using standard map apps, as their focus is A to B but I'm doing a circuit trying to find a shady spot to park if possible and not interfering with any local driving patterns. Or pedestrians. Or cyclists.

I can't sort the list of cases as presented. It's speculation to think there is a method to that madness or if its just the way it works.

The GPS probably doesn't drain the battery as much as the apps do, in my understanding about power consumption levels. Because I spent a few minutes for one collection while in bright sunlight, it seemed the display became too dim to work with.

For obvious reasons (they should be right?) no pictures in this post. I hesitated to even use the camera, given the commitment to privacy protection. To prevent some data leakage, I've turned off location on my personal phone. I usually do anyway unless I need directions or want to take a geo-tagged picture.

Once in a while, the character of Harry the Mailman from Lucifers Hammer comes to mind.

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