Journal of Official Statistics, Vol.2, No.4, 1986. pp. 431446

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Computer Systems to Support Census Geography

The computer systems that support the geography of the census have grown from a single integrated system, the Geographically Referenced Data Storage and Retrieval (GRDSR) System in 1971 to a suite of systems and packages in 1986. Furthermore, a new generation of systems is now being acquired within Statistics Canada (STC), and others are being developed in similar organizations like the U.S. Bureau of the Census. At the same time, the changing role of the Area Master File (AMF), the geographic base file of GRDSR, is having an impact on the systems that create, maintain and utilize the AMF to generate products of interest to private users. In addition, the re-evaluation of the AMF and the proposed block program are tightly intertwined and will pose even greater challenges for the existing systems.

Taken together, all of these changing conditions call for a careful re-examination of our approaches to maintaining and extending the systems capacities needed to support the geographic aspects of the 1991 Census. In this paper, we present proposals for the 1991 Census that increase the level of automation, whether the geography changes or not. In addition, opportunities for change and improvement, should the geography change, are outlined. To minimize the risks involved, it is important to give these different proposals serious consideration early in the planning of a census.

Census; reference maps; thematic maps; automated mapping block program; area master file; postal codes; geographic processing; TIGER.

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