Brazil’s 2010 Digital Census

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Brazil is conducting the world’s first fully digital national census in order to produce the most comprehensive and accurate survey of a nation. The census will be used to drive through social policies targeted at helping the poor and excluded which have been the centrepiece of President Lula da Silva’s 9 years in power.

I was invited to observe the census in operation across the diverse areas and communities that make up Brazil. The trip included a visit to a ‘quilombos’ community who are descendants of fugitive slaves that set up communities in remote areas to avoid recapture many centuries ago. Many of these communities only gained access to basic utilities such as electricity in the last six years.

The trip enabled me to speak to residents of Rocinha, a slum on the edges of Rio, and also senior government ministers and census coordinators. Watch this space for further news and a small video piece  showing how Brazil is using digital technology to produce an ‘X-Ray’ of the nation and how this will underpin public policy-making in the future.

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