ABS to host 2021 Census on AWS

PwC Australia to build digital component of Census

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has revealed that the online component of the 2021 Census will be hosted on Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) cloud.

The ABS announced today that it had commissioned PwC Australia to build and operate the online form, website and online assistance components of the Census.

In a statement, the ABS noted that in January the Australian Cyber Security Centre had accepted certification of some of AWS’s services for use with government data classified at the PROTECTED level.

The ABS also announced today that the Adecco Group had been awarded a contract to recruit 30,000 temporary field staff for the Census.

“After rigorous selection processes, the appointments of PwC Australia and the Adecco Group are major milestones in delivering a safe, secure and high-quality 2021 Census for all Australians,” acting ABS deputy statistician Chris Libreri said in a statement.

“PwC Australia brings to the 2021 Census a wealth of experience in managing and protecting sensitive personal information across the government, banking, superannuation and health sectors.”

The ABS said that it and PwC Australia “will work with critical agencies including the Australian Cyber Security Centre and the Digital Transformation Agency to build a secure solution that manages the high demand anticipated for 2021 Census.”

In September the ABS began seeking a supplier to provide the online component of the national data-gathering exercise.

A request for tenders issued by the ABS that said it expected the “2021 Census digital service will be the default and most convenient channel for the public to participate in the Census”.

“A trusted, simple, easy to use contemporary experience will be required to ensure the continued growth in online completion, and the ABS continues to strive towards further developing and enhancing its digital capability to support this outcome,” tender documents stated.

In its approach to the market, the ABS indicated a preference for cloud hosting.

This government in this year’s budget allocated an additional $38.3 million over three years from 2019-20 to help the ABS deliver the Census.

Budget documents said the additional funding was designed to address the issues arising from the 2016 Census. The 2016 Census website was temporarily pulled offline by the ABS after a series of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

A government-commissioned review of the eCensus, which was delivered by IBM on behalf of the ABS, found a number of technical blunders in the architecture of the system, including an attempt to mitigate DDoS attacks through a failed geoblocking strategy.

IBM was strongly criticised by the government for its role, and Canberra in late 2016 announced it had reached a confidential settlement with the technology company over the Census.

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Tags governmentCloudcloud computingPwCcensusAustralian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)Amazon Web Services (AWS)Census 2021

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