Pakistan launches its first digital census


Pakistan's first digital census began on Wednesday, aiming to gather demographic data on every single individual nationwide, in an effort accompanied by tight security, officials said.

More than 121,000 enumerators wearing green jackets fanned out across the country to collect the data, said Muhammad Sarwar Gondal, a spokesperson for the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, which is leading the exercise.

Gondal said that 86,000 policemen have been deployed in 156 districts throughout the country for the month-long exercise. Alongside a police officer accompanying each enumerator, thousands of troops have also been deployed for the exercise, given the surge in violence in past months, he added.

"Digital census is a step that pulls Pakistan out of the ancient past and opens doors to the modern future. From scribbled responses on millions of paper sheets to real-time validated data in apps on secure devices with satellite imagery, ëthisû is a step towards digital Pakistan," said Tariq Malik, chairman of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).

He said that big data from the Digital Census would become the foundational system for evidence-based policy-making for Pakistan, Malik said.

The digital census is aimed at cutting costs and improving accuracy since the results of previous exercises were marred by allegations of miscounting and the exclusion of some groups.

Key demographic data on urbanisation, migration, the size of different age groups, people's ethnic and linguistic backgrounds, genders including those who are transgender, educational qualifications and disabilities is being collected in the exercise.

Initial results are expected on 20 April.    (dpa) 

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