Local officials are combining old and newer technologies to help collect addresses for the 2020 census, according to Kim Ezell, Hopkins County's Geographic Information System's coordinator and chair of the county's census committee.
"Hopkins County participated in the Census Bureau's Local Update of Census Addresses Operation program to review addresses utilizing our geographic information system's collected address points to help make our count as accurate as possible," said Ezell. "The goal is to count everyone in Hopkins County once, only once and in the right place."
LUCA is the only opportunity officials have to review and comment on the U.S. Census Bureau's residential address list. The Census Bureau relies on a complete and accurate address list to include every citizen, according to the bureau's website.
One way GIS collects address points is through building permits, said Ezell.
Along with this newer technology, the Census Bureau launched its address canvassing initiative this week.
"Training began Monday at the Hopkins County Regional Chamber of Commerce, and workers will go door to door next week," said Leslie Curneal, chamber president and Hopkins County census committee member.
"They're called census listers, and they will be address-canvassing next week," said Curneal. "We don't want anybody to be skeptical of them. They will have briefcases that will say Census 2020, and they'll be walking around the community."
The listers are helping to make sure that the Bureau's data is in line with what the county has given them, said Curneal.
Both Ezell and Curneal stressed the importance of the census.
"It empowers us to shape our democracy, our public policy and local economy," said Ezell. "The census determines the number of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and electoral votes and is also used for redistricting.
"Census data is used to annually allocate federal funds to states, local governments, and individuals. It is also used for planning for future community needs like schools and transportation. Businesses use census data to determine where to locate or expand, which creates jobs," she said.
"It's huge. It's so important to our county," said Curneal. "It matters so much. The count needs to be accurate so that we are able to receive our portion of federal funding that should be coming to our schools and to our transportation departments to improve our roads."
For each person that fills out the census packet, the federal government allocates $1,000 per person per year over 10 years, said Curneal.
"If you do not fill out your census packet, that's $10,000 that Hopkins County will lose," she said over a 10-year period.
An invitation to respond to the 2020 Census will be sent to residents starting March 12, 2020, with an unique census ID. Every household will have the option of responding online, by phone, or by mail, said Ezell.
Next year's census will be the first time all three options to respond have been available, according to the bureau's website.
The U.S. Census is mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution to take place every 10 years.