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ONS makes early bid to get “digitally disconnected” online for 2021 Census

David Bicknell Published 17 April 2018

Newly published PIN wants companies and charities to play key role in helping ONS make 2021 Count more digitally inclusive


The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is making a bold bid to get the digitally excluded playing a key digital role in the 2021 Census.

The ONS has issued a prior information notice (PIN) looking for interested companies specialising in and committed to digital inclusion to help make online participation in the Census possible for those that don’t have digital skills. 

It wants to get as many as those who might be regarded as “digitally disconnected” doing their census online. 

It is holding a supplier event on the morning of April 25 in central London at the St. James' Court hotel to discuss its needs for 2021 Census Assisted Digital and to hear comments and questions from companies and charities.

It also plans to hold a further opportunity on May 16 for interested companies to meet and discuss further with ONS project leads and other organisations committed to digital inclusion. According to the PIN, the second session will be interactive, with plenty of opportunity for discussion and the potential to develop partnerships to ensure online support can be offered wherever it is needed.

The PIN explains, “Making the census work is a massive undertaking – probably the most visible public campaign held in this country – and an exciting opportunity for everyone who takes part. In 2021, this is particularly so for companies promoting digital inclusion, because we want most households to do their census online.

“For the majority of people, this won’t be a problem. It will be just another of many online transactions they do as part of everyday life. Others, though, won’t find it so simple. These are the people who, for various reasons, are being left behind by the digital revolution. They’re not opposed to being online: they just don’t have the skills, confidence, technology or opportunity to do so.

“At the Office for National Statistics, our commitment to an “online first” 2021 Census means we’re planning to make online participation possible for those who don’t have digital skills.”

It goes on, “This is where you come in. Can you help us to get as many of the “digitally disconnected” group as possible doing their census online? 

“Whether you’re a company or a charity, a nationwide operation with thousands of branches, or a local specialist with a handful of outlets, we want to meet you. Our task is to provide a network of face-to-face online support for the census across England and Wales. We recognise that to do this we may need to consider working with a wide variety of organisations committed to helping those struggling to go digital."

The ONS says its need for assistance for those who are willing but unable to do a digital census is simple. “We need face-to-face help, suitable venues where this can take place, internet-enabled technology, and a flexible approach – the help will range from answering a simple query to hands-on guidance through the online census questions. We have no need for digital training.

“We’re still finding out where we are most likely to need to offer digital assistance. Our aim is to be able to do this in every neighbourhood in England and Wales. With your help, we can.”

The PIN names Amy Thorne as a key contact for those wanting more details. 







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