The Census and Statistics Department of Macau
( DSEC ) started the computerization process
in the early 80s. The first computer system
acquired was an NCR system with eight dump terminals,
some disk packs and a cassette for initial machine
load. It only supported COBOL language for application
development and simple ISAM files. This system
was acquired mainly for the Census 1981 of Macau.
With the rapidly increased computation needs
of varies statistic surveys, the computer system
has been upgraded continuously. In 1986, a PCs
based local area network was setup, which provide
a more flexible environment for the end users.
In 1987, the NCR host was replaced by an IBM
host with larger storage capacity and a much
faster CPU. Since then, the IBM system became
the major processing platform for most of the
Traditionally DSEC developed almost all of
the application programs by its own EDP staff.
Take the Census in 1991 as an example, DSEC
has developed a field work control program in
dBase language, a data entry program in CENTRY,
a number of validation and data processing program
in COBOL, and a set of report generation program
in SAS. The development of application of information
technology in population statistics remains
in a preliminary stage.
The direct key-in of data from questionnaires
was employed in both the Census 1991 and the
Inter-Census 1996 in Macau, the data entry program
was developed in CENTRY. Optical mark reading
(OMR) form was the only alternative which has
been seriously considered in the InterCensus
project in 1996, but due to the limitations
on the design of the OMR form and the lack of
experience on using this technology, the proposal
was finally denied.
Beside the OMR technology, other data collection
method has .been studied. In the Consumer Price
Index survey, a study on the application of
the hand-held data collection machine in field
work has been made. Several limitations of these
machines were found in the study, such as the
small screen display, limited programming language
supported and poor response from the emuerators.
The study shown that the application of this
kind of data collection terminals in field work
is still not feasible.
Traditional batch validation and data compilation
programs are still in use, some of them are
written in COBOL, some are in SAS. In Macau,
the sampling size of the surveys are usually
small, so I there are no need for employing
complex data compilation methodology, most of
the programming effort is spent on the preparation
of statistics reports for publication.
With the rapid development of laser printing
technology on our desktop, the users are requesting
more high quality outputs for publication directly
from the EDP department, this change made the
work load of the EDP heavier since they are
picking up the work which should only be done
by the printing department in the past.
Printed publications have remained the major
dissemination means of statistical information
in Macau. All the statistical publications are
printed in three languages: the two official
languages, Portuguese and Chinese, and also
in English. The multi-language nature of our
publications created some technical problem
because each Chinese characters are formed by
two bytes, and the ASCII value of the first
byte is overlapped with some Portuguese letters,
for example, PUBLICAÇÕES will
become PUBLICAxxES in some software packages.
In order to improve the utilization of the
statistical information, more studies on the
dissemination of data by electronic means are
carried on. We have finished a CD-ROM for the
external trade statistics from 1989 to 1995,
the CD-170M contains all the data of external
trade of Macau in this period and has a windows
based program which allow the user to search
the specific information by different criterias.
Beside the CD-ROM, we have finished the first
version of our WWW pages. The information in
these pages will include the organization structure
of our department, the available publications,
the major statistical indicators of Macau, etc.
DSEC is going through a transition period
of moving from the IBM host to NT servers, and
from traditional VSAM file system to client/server
database system. The goal of this change is
to expend the flexibilities of the system thus
provide more rooms for the new application development
One of the major project which will be proposed
next year is a general purpose survey management
system, the primary objective of this system
is to provide the user a standardized procedure
to run a survey including the management of
field work, standard data entry programs, online
validation check and batch validation checklist,
data compilation and report generation. With
the availability of this system, we are expecting
the user can run their survey without the need
of tailor-made programs, and the EDP personnel
can concentrate on the exploration and development
of application of new information technology.