x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Census overcomes early snags

Technological glitches on the first night of door-to-door census data collection have been fixed, officials say.

ABU DHABI // Census takers due to begin gathering information on the Abu Dhabi emirate's population last night were delayed by a series of technical hitches, officials said today.

Teams across all three municipalities were delayed by more than three hours after paperwork and iPads, to be used to record data, were not delivered to some census takers.

Stickers, needed to mark the doors of homes that have been visited by census workers, were not delivered to any of the emirate's 37 headquarters.

"Everyone is ready to go out now," said Lubna Al Maskari, head of communications at the Statistics Centre - Abu Dhabi (Scad). "Everything is working."

Ghanem Al Mehairbi, the head of statistics information systems for Scad, said the stickers were necessary to ensure households were not visited twice.

"Inshallah, we have them now, and we will be able to go out as we planned," Mr Al Mehairbi said today.

At Al Ittihad School in Al Bateen, about 100 census workers gathered in the auditorium at 4pm yesterday, wearing grey Scad vests over their kanduras, abayas and suits.

Across the emirate, census-takers, also called enumerators, were not able to load the neighbourhood location maps onto their iPads. Some teams were able to go out after 7pm without the tablet computers, many to collect the paper questionnaires from hotels, prisons and labour accommodation.

The census, the first in more than five years, will ask personal details including name, age, occupation, nationality and marital status. Paper forms were distributed ahead of door-to-door data collection and field work that will continue until October 27.

Scad aims to count all residents and guests who were in the emirate on Monday night, called a Census Reference Night. Each respondent will be asked to answer questions about all guests who were at their home between sunset Monday and sunrise Tuesday.

The iPad maps are now loading, and the stickers have been distributed, officials said.

Ms Al Maskari said people responded well to the enumerators on the first day of field work, but initial feedback revealed that residents were requesting more information and explanation from the census-takers.

"There are still going to be a few challenges, but we will know more in two or three days when we have spoken to more people," she said.

More than 6,000 census workers are involved in the data collection and field work phase, which will see every home in the emirate visited before the end of the month.

Census takers will primarily visit between 4pm and 9pm from Sunday to Thursday but may also work some mornings or weekends.

Despite the initial problems, door-to-door visits will continue as scheduled for the rest of the month.