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Windows Mobile Picked for 2010 Census Data Collection

The U.S. Census Bureau is deploying the Windows Mobile operating system on 140,000 handheld personal digital assistants (PDAs) being used for the 2010 census.

This is the largest single, one-time deployment of Windows Mobile devices to date, said Randy Siegel, Microsoft Federal telecommunications and mobility strategist.

Harris Corp., the system integrator for the 2010 census, has selected Sprint to be the wireless data provider for the census. About 140,000 field workers are collecting census data using handheld PDAs operating on the Sprint network.

The Census Bureau and each of the three competing integrator teams -- Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Hewlett-Packard -- decided to go with the Windows Mobile platform even before they decided on the hardware, Siegel said. "It was a unanimous decision," he said.

The PDAs are also equipped with the ArcPad geographic information system application from ESRI, Siegel said. The app is being used to verify and update every U.S. address, or at least as many as possible, he added.

"Census made a large investment in Microsoft technology for their back-end regional and local offices, including server and desktop technology," Siegel said. "The addition of mobile devices leverages prior investments and automates formerly paper-based systems, resulting in higher efficiency."

The Field Data Collection Automation database, designed and supported by Harris, will automate the collection and management of the addresses, Sprint representatives said.

In the past, much of the census data was collected manually by field workers using paper address lists and printed maps. The 2010 census will be "virtually paperless," at least in the address canvassing phase, Sprint said.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is the senior writer of features and labs, for GCN.com.

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