The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is conducting a "dress rehearsal" of the $9 million eCensus system devised by IBM in April 2009 in order to prepare for the actual event on 9 August 2011.
The Assistant Treasurer, Senator Nick Sherry, encouraged residents to help with the test, but also noted that "participation in the rehearsal is voluntary".
The rehearsal will be conducted between 31 May and 2 July. It will collect data from NSW towns, Marrickville, Blacktown, Kingsford and Dubbo; South Australian towns, Port Augusta and Salisbury; as well as a sample of 20,000 remote Indigenous communities in The Pilbara, East Kimberley, Central Desert and Port Augusta. Some West Australian communities will also be polled.
Residents in the nominated towns will have the option of completing the online eCensus form, or filling in a paper census form from a census collector. The ABS uses census data to plan infrastructure and has recently completed an Internet Activity Survey, which surveyed ISPs with more than 1000 customers.