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Census officials to transmit live data on special, secure network

Solomon Yator (centre), a Census Enumerator
Solomon Yator (centre), a Census Enumerator accompanied by another enumerator, Lydia Chepkorir talks to one of the residents of Kapsoya Estate in Eldoret Town, Uasin Gishu County during the Pre-Enumeration Listing on August 22, 2019, ahead of the 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census slated for August 24/25. PHOTO /JARED NYATAYA 

Transmission of the upcoming Population and Housing Census data will be done through a special, secure network to ward off the risk of un-authorised access to people’s private information.

ICT Secretary Joe Mucheru on Thursday said the census data system was locally assembled to give the State control over the gathering and transmission of the information.

“Only the authorised people have access to that data. We are not relying on a foreign entity for the security of the data. The devices were assembled here and we created our software here,” said Mr Mucheru in an interview on the census that kicks off tomorrow night. The Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and Moi University supplied the over 160,000 tablets and the software to conduct the census at a cost of Sh3 billion.

The census data is critical for informing economic policy, healthcare and representation. Globally, census data has often been at risk of getting leaked or manipulated. Use of local telecommunication companies’ networks and technology supplied by foreign firms was part of the sticking points in the disputed 2017 presidential poll.

“We established a special network for the transmission of the information, and this is linked to a system with a storage capacity of 40 terabytes and full server redundancy,” said Mr Mucheru in a joint statement with Interior Secretary Fred Matiang’i and acting Treasury Secretary Ukur Yatani when they gave a public update on the census.

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The population data gathered from the census is shared among key government ministries and departments to guide in resource allocation and wealth distribution.

The census report, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), provides information that is essential for “evidence-based development planning, making administrative and policy decisions, and research.”

Failure to answer the census enumerators’ questions or giving them false information will attract a Sh500,000 fine or six months imprisonment. Those who play hide and seek with the census officials and those who boycott the count will also be risking a Sh500,000 fine or one-year jail term.

The results will also be used by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in the planned boundary demarcation ahead of the 2022 General Election.

“As a measure of extra security, we had the hardware and software for the exercise developed and assembled locally, which means we have full control of the data captured,” said the CSs.

Counting of people will start from the night of August 24, continuing up to August 31, when it is scheduled to end.

“We have successfully completed the recruitment, training and deployment of the census personnel, who include 2,467 ICT supervisors, 22,268 content supervisors and 138,572 enumerators, 9,000 of whom will cover special populations, including street families, prisons, police cells, travellers, and hospitals,” they said.

“All the necessary material and equipment have been delivered to county headquarters for onward distribution to the census personnel.”

A communication centre will be provided for regular updates.

The government also says it has recalled all security officers who were on leave and dispatched them to accompany the census personnel.

“They will be joined by village or community elders and leaders of residents’ associations, depending on the area,” it said. “For ease of identification, they will be wearing branded attire and will have identification documents.”

All social and entertainment joints will be closed by 5pm on 24th and 25th to allow household members settle early in preparation for the census.

Out of the 18.5 billion allocated for the census, workers will be paid Sh10 billion.

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