The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has put out a request for tender (RFT) for a supplier to assist in the data capture of paper Census forms in preparation for the 2021 Census.
The ABS is looking for a supplier to provide data capture, recognition and repair software for the imaging and data requirements to capture responses from paper forms using intelligent character recognition (ICR), optical character recognition (OCR) and optical mark recognition (OMR) technology, either individually or collectively, as well as recognition engines to interpret and digitise data.
The solution the ABS is looking for would include software licences, implementation, training, maintenance and ongoing support and for it to be ready for it to be ready in time for the Census Readiness Exercise test in August 2020.
According to the RFT, the ideal solution would be compatible with ABS-owned Kodak i5850 scanners, but the ABS is open to other scanner recommendations to interact with the proposed software.
The act of paper data capture, as per RFT documentation, includes scanning, capturing, recognising and enhancing the written responses from paper forms and other materials, converting the responses into electronic repaired data to be then used by the appropriate systems and downstream processes.
This RFT follows PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Australia’s win in May to supply the digital services side of the Census after the outages that affected the 2016 Census website.
At the time of PwC's win, then-acting ABS deputy statistician Chris Libreri said PwC will bring "a wealth of experience in managing and protecting sensitive personal information across the government, banking, superannuation and health sectors" to the 2021 Census.
“Keeping people’s information secure and confidential is the highest priority for the ABS. It was a key factor in the digital services selection process and a critical consideration in the design of Census activities,” Liberi said.