An earlier version
of this paper was presented to the eleventh
session of the Committee on Statistics,
Bangkok, 24-26 November 1998. It presents
the results of a survey conducted among
national statistical offices of the region
on the application of information technology
(IT) to population data. The survey covered
the use of IT in the national statistical
office as a whole and in a selected census
or survey. The paper reveals significant
differences in IT endowments and types
of technology applications among the three
groups into which the responding countries/areas
have been classified.
This document has been issued without formal editing.
Advanced Coding Environment
Computer Assisted Personal
Computer Assisted Telephone
Census Data Entry System
Census Tracking System
CENsus Tabulation System
Census Mapping System
Collection Operation Management
CONsistency and CORrection
Database Management System
Demographic Projection Model
for Development Planning
Demographic Health Survey
Computerized Data Verification
East West Center's population
Flexible and Swift Tabulation
Geographic Information System
Grandfather Father Son System
HyperText Markup Language
Integrated System for Survey
Interactive Voice Response
Local Area Network
Optical Character Recognition
Organisation for Economic
Cooperation and Development
Optical Mark Recognition/Reader
Publication Assembly System
Resource Access Control
Resource Management System
Retrieval of DATa for Small
Areas by Microcomputer
Statistical Analysis Software
System of Management and Coordination Agency
Structured Query Language
Statistical Package for
Time Series Retrieval and
A viewer for GIS used in
landscape architecture, natural resources
management, and agricultural engineering curricula,
or any disciplines entailing resource management.
Software developed by the
Center for Disease Control and the World Health
Organization, used for anthropometric indices
Application software used
for the table check for the population census
FIVFIV and FIVSIN
A program for population
projections at national, regional and city
levels and simulations.
Software product for mapping,
data visualization and GIS.
United Nations software
package for mortality measurement.
A user-friendly software
package designed for demographic and human
resource development applications. It provides
the facilities for making national and subnational
population projections classified by age and
software providing maps and a graphics database.
An IMPS module used for
early output of simple tables.
Software used for data back-up.
Statistical analysis tool.
The function of SuperCROSS
is to retrieve and summarize huge amounts
of textual and numeric data from high volume
databases and display these in the form of
tables, making it an ideal tool for the census.
A software produced by Space-Time
Research PTY Australia Ltd., used as a primary
tool for the mapping of census data.
A user-friendly software
package designed for demographic and human
resource development applications. It takes
the projected population numbers and provides
the facility for making projections of labour
supply, households and education, as well
as for assessing resource implications, such
as teacher and classroom requirements. In
addition to generating basic projections,
it gives a range of carefully designed tables
and charts to highlight the analytical features
of the results.
1. On the recommendation of
the Working Party on the Application of New Technology
to Population Data, the secretariat conducted
a survey on the application of new technology
to population data. A questionnaire was sent to
all 56 national statistical offices in the region
in April 1998. At the time of compilation of this
paper, 29 completed questionnaires had been received.
The secretariat wishes to express its appreciation
to all those national statistical offices which
have responded to the survey. One returned questionnaire
could not be used as it was not in a working language
of the secretariat; for some others, information
on some aspects was incomplete. The results presented
in this report are thus based on 28 questionnaires
but, owing to the non-availability of information
on some items, not all the questionnaires could
be used for each and every table.
2. Taking into account analytical considerations
as well as the volume of information involved
and the limitation on the length of Committee
documents, the information collected is provided
as a summary for three groups of countries/areas
given below. However, information at the national
level for some basic items is provided in detail
in table 1.
Group 1: Developed members of ESCAP
Group 2: Members and associate members of ESCAP
which are either newly industrializing economies
or developing members of OECD
Hong Kong, China
Republic of Korea
Group 3: Developing members and associate members
American Samoa Malaysia
Islamic Republic of Iran
Lao People's Democratic Republic
RESULTS OF THE SURVEY
Use of information technology in the national statistical
1. Equipment and human
1 provides information on the size of
the country/area, the personnel resources of
its national statistical office, and personal
computers (PCs) and hardware resources. In all
three developed countries of the region, Australia,
Japan and New Zealand, as well as in Singapore,
there is at least one PC on the desk of each
staff member. Marshall Islands is perhaps a
special case in that vacancies in a small national
statistical office can easily distort figures.
American Samoa and the Republic of Korea are
very well equipped with PCs. Most national statistical
office staff of Bhutan; Fiji; Guam; Hong Kong,
China; Lao People's Democratic Republic; and
Macau have access to PCs. Indonesia, Malaysia,
the Philippines, Samoa, Thailand and Turkey
are less well endowed in terms of PC accessibility
as there are 270-440 staff per 100 PCs. The
survey results indicate that PC accessibility
is by far the lowest in the national statistical
offices of the three South Asian countries with
large NSOs (Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka).
4. Regarding the availability of network-connected
PCs, all staff of the national statistical offices
of Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Singapore
have their PC connected to a network. More than
half of the statistical personnel in Macau and
the Republic of Korea are connected, while the
figure is around one third in Fiji; Hong Kong,
China; Lao People's Democratic Republic; and Maldives.
In Armenia, American Samoa and Malaysia, there
are six or seven staff per network-connected PC,
and as many as 14 in Indonesia and the Philippines.
The figures are higher still for Bangladesh, Myanmar,
Pakistan and Turkey.
2. Use of selected technology
1 to 3 suggest that there is a wide gap between
developed and developing countries in the application
of technology in national statistical offices.
2 shows that mainframe computers are still
common in the national statistical offices in
the region, irrespective of the stage of development.
However, when it comes to the application of communication
technology, the gap between developed and developing
countries is quite visible. While all the national
statistical offices in groups 1 and 2 have e-mail,
half of the national statistical offices in developing
countries lack that facility. Similarly, not only
do all the national statistical offices in groups
1 and 2 have Internet connection, most of them
have leased lines. By contrast, only 12 out of
21 national statistical offices in developing
countries reported the availability of Internet
connection, which predominantly depended on dial-up
7. Information provided in the survey, but not
tabulated in the present document, also points
to a significant gap between developed and developing
countries in terms of the actual number of staff
who have access to modern information technology
facilities such as the Internet. In one developing
country, in the national statistical office, with
more than 4,000 staff, the Internet is available
to only 10 users at a time. On the other hand,
in the developed countries and more advanced national
statistical offices it is available for hundreds
of users. In one developed country, although access
to the Internet is available to all staff, users
are restricted as a matter of policy to a browser
which does not support frames, and the sites they
can visit are limited.
2 also provides information on the use of
other IT components such as local area networks
(LAN), scanning devices, and geographic information
systems (GIS) for mapping. Manual mapping is still
the most common method used by developing countries.
3. Commonly used software
3 provides information on the most commonly
used software in the national statistical offices
of the ESCAP region. It shows that a wide range
of software is utilized for various applications.
Apparently, there is no particular pattern or preferential
differences among the three groups of countries/areas.
Technology used for population censuses and surveys
10. The survey asked the responding
national statistical offices to select one census
or survey and provide information on it concerning
application of technology. Of the 28 national statistical
offices responding to this section, 20 provided
information on population/housing censuses, 7 on
surveys and 1 on a general population register.
1. Design, preparation
and management of censuses and surveys
11. Information was sought on
technology applications concerning questionnaire
design, development of manuals and other instructions,
operational control, and budget and cost control.
shows the results. There is some indication that
group 3 countries mostly depend on manual procedures.
Various word-processing and other software packages
are utilized to assist different stages of work.
The nature of technology applications among national
statistical offices in groups 1 and 2 goes beyond
mere word-processing and spreadsheet applications.
2. Enumeration, coding,
data capture and scrutiny
12. The technology used in these
areas is shown in Table
5. As far as enumeration is concerned, the personal
interview method is the most dominant mode, for
which hard copy forms are used. However, one national
statistical office in group 2 plans to introduce
an electronic submission system and computer-assisted
telephone interviewing (CATI) for its 2000 census.
Usually, coding is also done manually but in some
cases computer-assisted coding has been mentioned.
For data capture, key-to-disc entry is commonly
used but 11 national statistical offices, including
3 in developing countries/areas have mentioned the
use of OMR/OCR/ICR. For data scrutiny, input editing,
verification and imputation, various approaches
have been used. In developing countries the use
of IMPS and its component CONCOR is quite common.
Tabulation, data storage and dissemination
13. The survey also asked questions
about the use of IT in national statistical offices
for tabulation, estimation and analysis, data storage
and scrutiny, and the media of data dissemination
arrangements in the national statistical offices
of the region. Tables 6 to 8 provide a summary of
1. Tabulation, estimation
14. As can be seen in Table
6, some of the software used for these purposes
is common to all three groups of countries/areas.
However, group 1 and group 2 national statistical
offices also use tailor-made systems while group
3 national statistical offices very often use software
available free of cost in the public domain, such
as IMPS, MortPak and PopMap. The two major statistical
analysis software packages, SAS and SPSS, are commonly
used irrespective of the stage of development of
the national statistical office.
2. Data storage and security
15. An attempt was made in the
survey to collect information on arrangements used
for data protection in archival and data back-up.
The information is summarized in Table
7, which shows the variety of arrangements used
in data archival and back-up, ranging from diskettes
and tapes to modern optical media such as CD-ROM.
Security arrangements include encryption, password,
compression and other tailor-made systems. However,
in developing countries security mostly consists
of back-up to diskettes or CD-ROMs.
3. Media of data dissemination
8 summarizes the information for 28 national
statistical offices on the media used for data dissemination.
It is clear that printed publications are used by
all the national statistical offices. In the area
of electronic dissemination, diskettes constitute
the most common medium, while CD-ROM is also utilized
for dissemination by more than half the reporting
national statistical offices. Dissemination through
e-mail is also practised in 13 of the 28 national
statistical offices. All group 1 and 2 countries
disseminate data through the Internet while only
about one third of the group 3 national statistical
offices mentioned that medium.