The U.S. Census Bureau is using new high-tech tools to help get an accurate population count next year as its faces challenges tallying people of color who live in remote places and can be wary of the federal government.
The agency is using aerial images of rural communities and hard-to-reach areas to verify addresses and determine where to send workers to ensure everyone is counted, Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham said.
Satellites and planes take photos, and bureau employees compare the housing captured in the images to digital maps from the last census, in 2010. It takes a fraction of the time needed by workers in the field.
The agency has used geographic technology since 1990 but has never had access to such accurate tools from the air, said Deirdre Dalpiaz Bishop, head of the bureau's geography division.
That technology — known as geographic information system, or GIS — uses computers to analyze neighborhoods, land formations, rivers and other data captured by satellites or traditional mapping.