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Geospatial solutions help improve statistics in the Pacific
Cartography is an integral part of household census and survey cycles. Traditionally, maps have been used to help with field enumeration and to spatially represent aggregated results and indicators for analysis and dissemination.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, with the gradual introduction of technologies such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Global Positioning Systems (GPS), we saw a major improvement in the way in which geographic census unit frameworks and household locations were defined and located in space. This valuable geographic information enhanced the way census and surveys were designed and planned.
In 2016 Tonga and Vanuatu were the first countries in the region to replace paper questionnaires with Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) to carry out their respective population and housing censuses. Since then, other countries in the region have been integrating CAPI technology into their data collection.
From a geospatial perspective, CAPI systems have brought two main improvements. First, the spatial information is now integrated within the census/survey database, facilitating field work and data monitoring in real time. Secondly, the robust connection between the geographic and statistical information at household level opens a range of new opportunities to undertake extensive analysis related to disaster management, climate change, water and sanitation, food security and coastal fisheries, among other areas. For example, by combining georeferenced population data from censuses with elevation models or maps of areas vulnerable to cyclones, we can describe potential effects on populations in the event of sea level rise (left) or natural disaster (right).