back to article US census ditches handhelds for clipboards

The US is giving up plans to issue researchers with handheld computers for their 2010 census, as changing specifications have driven the cost of each one beyond $8,500. The next census is scheduled for 2010, and the US Census Bureau hired Harris Corp to create handsets suitable for the half-million researchers who have to knock …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
Anonymous Coward

we don't need no steenkin' title

> The handsets do have GPS and wireless connectivity

> to allow dynamic collection of the collected data,

iPhone?

> but that's hardly sufficient to account for a per-unit

> cost of $8,609.

Oh, can't be - too cheap.

0
0
Boffin

So what's wrong with a blackberry style phone?

Let's face it, all they need is an off the shelf mobile phone with integrated GPS, high speed data, and maybe a windows mobile operating system for compatibility, and they're set. Then all they need to do is write a mobile software application to suit their needs, and bingo, sorted. Max cost? including software, probably a grand apiece including discount for a mass purchase.

So, why, when the chances are that most of the higher up government employees there have a blackberry or HP PDA, did they believe that going bespoke was the best way?

0
0

Re: AC

>> The handsets do have GPS and wireless connectivity

>> to allow dynamic collection of the collected data,

>iPhone?

Do iPhones have GPS?

0
0
Flame

Oh dear...

...another over complicated project bites the dust.

The only sad thing is they won't learn - Do the simplest thing that works first. You won't realise all your savings but you'll have something that works that can be subject to improvement in small increments.

PHB: and we get a .000001% error rate typing in zip codes

Salesman: We can eliminate that with GPS and know within 2meters where someone lives.

PHB: Oh yes we'll have some of that. I can do population density by square meters instead of state/county/town/parish. I can generate some very pretty charts from that. (forgetting that the information is out of date the day after it is collected)

Techie: (thinks) Yep Geospatial coding - that'll look good on the CV.

PM: Impact analysis, revised plan, change control blah blah blah lots of days, team just doubled.

Bean counter: Kerrrrching. Cost just doubled on the simple PDA that had two forms: address details and occupancy details.

PHB: You didn't say it was going to cost more, I think we'll drop the whole project.

or worse

PHB: Ok we understand we can't afford it and we don't have time to implement properly it but there's no need to be pessimistic I'm sure there will be some new technology during the course of the project that we can bring in to shortcut it. And we need a project code for hand held terminals that allow five finger typing...hmmm Terminal 5 ok with everone?

Nobody looked good because it wouldn't look good to say no.

Having seen these things go tits-up before as a lead architect I thing it's my job start with a negotiating position of "no" and work up from there. Not always popular with anyone, until you deliver on time and to budget and then get an order for refinements and the time to do them properly.

Flames for all the public sector projects that will crash and burn because the blue sky thinking and sales technique is way ahead of technical and people capabilities.

0
0
Silver badge
Happy

Ah the old one returns

The US spend millions developing a pen that works in space, the Russians use a pencil.

They spend billions on laptops to do a survery, everyone else uses pen and paper.

0
0
Alien

@ Stu

"The US spend millions developing a pen that works in space, the Russians use a pencil."

Wrong, you can't use a pencil in space, the sharpenings and broken-off leads get in the machinery. You can, however, use a cheap biro in space.

0
0

"windows mobile operating system for compatibility"

Lol, good one :)

0
0

Re: Re: AC

>>iPhone?

>Do iPhones have GPS?

No, but my [O2] XDA Orbit does! (It's got a rather slow processor, but can do a few things) and that thing can hardly cost more than a couple of hundred ££.

0
0
Thumb Down

"cheap biro" ?

By cheap biro I assume you mean one which contains a pressurized cartridge and cost $1 million to develop...

0
0

Space pens.

Apparently the space pen thing is somewhat of an urban myth. Both started out using Pencils. Some pen company then developed the pen (and paid for the development - not NASA/ the US govt.) The Americans used it first, and then the Russians started using it. http://www.snopes.com/business/genius/spacepen.asp

I agree with the point, though, that a low tech solution is often better....

0
0

Russian pencil - it's a myth

Sorry kids but the russian pencil thing is an urban myth, and the "space pen" wasn't developed by the government but by a private company, it was handy for it though (and it didn't cost a million dollars).

Snopes, as ever, has the skinny;

http://www.snopes.com/business/genius/spacepen.asp

0
0
Boffin

Biro

A normal biro will, in fact, work in zero g. Stephen Fry said so on QI, and he knows everything.

0
0

oh, the cynicism!

"It remains to be seen how much Deutsche Telecom can spend on the UK 2011 census."

I like the wording.

On the suggestions of iPhones and Blackberries, I don't think they are suited to data entry on this scale. If I was inputting scadloads of data I'd want something a little bigger, like a tablet PC. Even an expensive ruggedised one with a cellphone connecting it to the internet shouldn't cost more than the initial budget. The big cost would be the software, but even that shouldn't be too hard.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

WTF

I could've and should've bid for this contract - certainly I could order a shedload of tablet PCs with sim card slots from HP or the like, tape a USB GPS receiver to the roof, and knocked out some data entry software in the form of a .NET desktop app.

0
0
Alien

Re: Greg

Now tell me: why the HELL do you need GPS?

Let me guess, if they're 'illegal' in some form, the gov can just push a button? (POOF - That'll fix'em!)

0
0
Anonymous Coward

erm

I got a PDA phone, with several flavours of wireless, cellular tech, GPS, etc for free on my contract. You can buy them off the shelf for less than US$500 and the discount for 151,000 would be quite good.

0
0

ok 417 changes

WHat the hell did you think was going to happen. THey were going to say OK we will do it for the same price. Would love to know what the original specs were and then see those 417 changes that were requested.

0
0
Happy

$9,000 a pop, a bargin

Let's see 151,000 PDAs with a custom application to record census details, a web page won't do because the network signal can't be guaranteed, so you need to store the completed survey forms locally until a connection has been made, and then download them. This could be days in the US.

So the design will set you back a few million, plus a few more for a bunch of coders in Bangalore to write the application, the a few million to test it, a few million for a bunch of coders in the US to rewrite it so that it works, another few million to test it again. Then even more millions for the change requests, then you have to set up your unique remedy help desk, had to be government security rules won't allow you to share an existing one, to support the users and a software support team, so that's some more millions. Then you need to train 151,000 users to user the application, so that's a nationwide training program, so that's many more millions, don't assume that because you know how to use windows mobile the Joe or Jane next door does. Then there's rollout costs, profit margin, and contingency so there you go $500,000,000, allow some scope creep, and the the usual double the number you first thought of and add 50% for any government contract, and Bob's your uncle, $1.5 Billion. You aren't buying a simple excel spreadsheet you know. So how much was it then.

By the way it would be really interesting to know how the break down that $8,609. It can't all be for just the device, can it?

0
0
This topic is closed for new posts.

Forums