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ABS to set up data processing centre ahead of 2011 Census

700-strong workstation environment to run a Census dress rehearsal in September 2010

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is to set up a massive data processing centre by September next year ahead of the August 2011 Census of Population and Housing.

In tender documents the ABS said the data processing centre, expected to be rolled out in the Melbourne CBD, would likely consist of about 700 workstations, mostly thin client hardware serving virtual desktops, but also including notebooks and thick clients.

The workstations will run a standard managed desktop environment including Windows XP SP3, Lotus Notes 8.5, Lotus Symphony and/or, and other specific purpose and security software.

Windows Server 2008 will provide file, print and naming services, along with Oracle 11g as the preferred database service. TCP/IP over 100Mbps switched Ethernet LANs and a Frame Relay WAN will be used for connectivity.

The September deadline coincides with a planned dress rehearsal run of the 2011 Census, which will see around 20,000 test forms, scanned and processed over several passes to ensure all Census processing sub-systems are performing satisfactorily and is also used to determine operational throughput rates and staffing requirements.

The 2011 Census itself is expected to see a scanning and data collation workload of an about eighty million double-sided sheets, to be scanned in an estimated 100 working days.

To manage this workload the ABS is seeking an additional two scanners which also have the ability to scan around 32,000 coloured maps and store these images for future use in the Census processing environment.

According to the tender documents, the 2001 and 2006 Censuses scanning hardware for the 2006 Census solution consisted of 13 heavy duty scanners which were operated from 7.30am to 6pm, 5 days a week, for 20 weeks.

Intelligent character recognition (ICR) technology for data capture Census forms was also used.

In June this year the ABS said it was looking to spend up to $450,000 on a new a information technology desktop asset management solution to replace its existing software management system (SMS) with the goal of getting a better handle over the 600 or so applications used across its PCs and notebooks. In April it announced that it had virtualised its server infrastructure to form its own private cloud with the potential to host the 2016 eCensus thus avoiding a $9 million outsourcing contract.

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More about: ABS, Australian Bureau of Statistics, OpenOffice,, Oracle
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