Last Updated: 1 October 2010
2010 World PHC

The importance of disseminating census results

1.       The fundamental purpose of the population census is to provide quantitative information essential to governmental policymaking; evidence-based planning and administration. In addition, the information is also useful to various stakeholders, among them, civil society; researchers and international organizations. The population census is unique in that it provides comparable basic statistics for a country as a whole, and, more importantly, at small administrative levels or domains. Census information, therefore, contributes to overall planning, in a country or area, by making it possible to objectively plan at sub-national administrative levels. Population censuses, in many countries, are the backbone for statistical capacity building of national statistical offices.

2.       At the 36th Session of the United Nations Statistical Commission in March 2005, the Statistical Commission approved the 2010 World Programme on Population and Housing Censuses covering the period 2005 to 2014. In this context, one of the three main goals of the World Programme is to assist countries in their efforts to disseminate census results in a timely manner.

3.       Dissemination of varied census results has been one of the weakest points of population and housing censuses in the past rounds. Many countries faced problems to disseminate their results widely and quickly. In many cases, anticipated dissemination costs are not usually included in the initial budget plan. It appears that census enumeration is the major focus, in many countries, while detailed data analysis and dissemination, through different media, are not given priority. As the census is the major source for information at small geographical levels, local authorities’ needs must be taken into consideration and specific products developed for their use. For example, simplified and appealing reports can be developed presenting the main population characteristics of a local administrative area, though basic tables, graphs, maps. Such information could be compared with other sub-national areas.

4.       With the increasing need for evidence-based decision making and rapid development of technology, census data users have great interest in having a broad range of products and services from the census organization. Advanced information technology, coupled with relevant software packages, provides the opportunity to produce a greater number and a wider variety of census products including assorted tabulations than was the case with previous census results. The data stored in the census database represent a rich source of information, which allows fast and relatively inexpensive production of additional tables as they are requested. Online access or dissemination of such micro- and/or macro-databases on computer media can greatly contribute to an enlarging of the user base by adding value to census results and creating enhanced demand for census data. There is, therefore, a great opportunity to develop computer based dissemination regimes in addition to paper publications.

CensusInfo: A Software Application for Disseminating Census Results

5.       The United Nations Statistics Division, in partnership with UNICEF and UNFPA, has developed a software package, CensusInfo to help countries disseminate their census results at any relevant geographical level, on CD-ROM and on the web. CensusInfo was officially launched at the United Nations Statistical Commission on 23 February 2009 and is distributed royalty-free.

6.       CensusInfo has the following features:

  • Software database system based on DevInfo database technology with added specific functionalities to meet census dissemination requirements
  • Operates both as a desktop application and on the web
  • Organizes data by indicators, time periods, and geographic areas with extensive metadata based on international standards
  • CensusInfo contains a core set of census indicators with options to add country-specific indicators
  • CensusInfo can be customized to meet country-specific requirements both in terms of content (indicators) and branding
  • CensusInfo links data to digital maps at the sub-national geographical level
  • CensusInfo can import data from other software applications, such as CSPro and Redatam
  • CensusInfo generates user-defined standard reports, tables, graphs and maps

7.       For more information on CensusInfo, see