BY INGRID BROWN Associate editor — special assignment firstname.lastname@example.org
THE Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) is moving toward a paperless system as it begins to roll out at least three of its current surveys electronically.
Details of this locally designed system, which will result in significant savings of both time and money to the State-run entity, will be outlined at a press conference scheduled for this morning.
Under this electronic system, which was rolled out earlier this month, STATIN staff will use tablet computers to collect data from the field and this will be immediately fed into a system at the head office for analysis.
Howard Hamilton, director of information and technology, who led the team which designed the in-house software, explained that this will reduce errors and lessen the input time for data as the information does not have to be re-keyed, unlike the paper-based system.
"We discovered that we were saving in terms of time, 45 to 50 per cent," he said of the pilot, which was started in 2010.
As for the paper system, Hamilton said the process is usually longer as there are several checks in place for quality assurance to catch errors.
"With the paperless system, we are really hoping that our data quality would increase significantly, at least to 90 per cent, because most of the errors introduced would have come in through the keying in of data and the scanning process. But if we remove this, then we would have been able to improve the quality," he told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
Merville Anderson, director of field services, said with the paperless system there will be more time to examine the data and the statisticians will be able to do a lot more work with the data they receive from the field.
The STATIN officials said that public reception of the paperless system has been very encouraging.
"When we did the test we went across Jamaica and the reception (by) the persons, we couldn't believe it. They were saying it is about time we do something like that, because they were referring to the utility companies that already had their hand-held devices out there; so what was STATIN doing so long," she said, adding that "we never got a negative response".