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IBM helps Australian Bureau of Statistics break records with the 2011 eCensus

Almost 30 per cent of Australian households used the ABS’ eCensus site to complete the 2011 Census

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Sydney, Australia - 27 Sep 2011: IBM (NYSE: IBM) and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today announced  that more than 2.6 million households across Australia submitting Census forms via the web-based eCensus solution. This represents a significant jump from the 2006 Census, when 778,000 (9.1 per cent) of Australian households completed their forms online.

The 2011 eCensus solution was architected and hosted for the ABS by IBM Australia using the latest web development platforms and requiring close collaboration to ensure the highest levels of security and legislative compliance. The application was custom-designed and built by IBM’s consulting team in Ballarat, Victoria and hosted by the IBM Baulkham Hills Data Centre, Sydney.

The eCensus delivered 100 per cent availability through the Census’ busiest period – from Saturday 6 August to Sunday, 14 August 2011.  Approximately 200,000 households were using the system at the peak time of 8:43pm on Tuesday 9 August, achieving 85 eCensus submissions per second. Average page-load response times remained below one second.

Paul Lowe, Head of the ABS Population Census program, was delighted at the 21 per cent increase in households using eCensus.

“It’s brilliant that so many people chose to complete the Census online,” he said. “The eCensus made it more convenient for people in Australia on Census night to complete the Census.   The eCensus also makes statistical collection and processing simpler and more accurate. The online form also improves accessibility for the vision impaired.”

To create the 2011 eCensus, the ABS and IBM collaborated on enhancements to the original 2006 eCensus solution which was awarded the 2007 Computerworld Honours Laureate and 2007 Australian Excellence in e-Government Award.

IBM worked closely with the ABS team on all aspects of developing the eCensus solution. Application development and testing commenced in 2009 at IBM’s Client Service Centre in Ballarat.

The 2011 eCensus infrastructure takes advantage of new technology. The secure eCensus program uses IBM POWER7 Systems, which were designed to meet stringent availability, scalability and security requirements required by ABS.

During the eCensus’ five-week open period, the ABS and IBM support teams monitored the system 24 hours a day using automated monitoring technology to ensure problems were identified and rectified without impacting users, and the system had sufficient capacity at all times.

The reduction in server hardware requirements and associated costs meant that IBM could also redevelop the eCensus application so it can be used for other ABS surveys, at no extra cost to ABS.

“IBM redeveloped the 2006 eCensus application for the 2011 Census using the latest web development platforms,” said Tim Gunnell, Public Sector General Manager, IBM Australia. “The redevelopment was funded by the reduction in the required hardware at no additional cost to the ABS. The resulting application can now be used by the ABS for all its ongoing survey activities. For example, eCensus technology hosted by ABS in Canberra is currently being used to run the 2011 Agricultural Census.”

The eCensus application was custom-built using IBM DB2 and WebSphere software, including WebSphere Application Server, DB2 Universal Database High Availability Disaster Recovery, Rational Application Developer and Tivoli Monitoring.

Prior to the go-live date on 28 July 2011, eCensus underwent extensive third-party testing to ensure security and privacy. IBM provided the highest levels of security to meet the stringent privacy requirements of the ABS, as required under the Census and Statistics Act 1905.

“A measure of the success of the collaboration between IBM and ABS is that we were able to build and manage the entire eCensus system while complying with the Act.  The entire eCensus project is an outstanding example of what can be achieved when public private collaboration works at its best,” added Gunnell.

About the Australian Bureau of Statistics

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is Australia’s official national statistical agency. It provides a high-quality, objective and responsive national statistical service to encourage informed decision making, research and discussion within governments and the community.

For more information about the eCensus please visit

For more information on IBM please visit

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