Census.gov transformation focuses on data customer

Census.gov 'transformation' focuses on data customer

The U.S. Census Bureau is looking for ways to drive public interest in and access to the agency’s data by undertaking a top down review of its web content, the tools to access and search it and how analytics might generate a greater public appetite for Census products and features.

In doing so, the agency is reconsidering its overall approach to content. One example: organize its information around themes, such as healthcare and education, instead of taking a program-driven approach that focuses internally on various scheduled data surveys.

To keep the ball rolling, the bureau is planning a contract for services to support ongoing work on the plan, dubbed the Digital Transformation, covering search, responsive design, content migration, analytics support, mobile apps and data product development.

The agency has broken the Digital Transformation project into three critical pieces encompassing content migration, customer engagement and search platform implementation.

The content management system (CMS) project is designed to take advantage of new technology, including Adobe CQ, to enhance content management and publishing the Census Bureau’s public facing website (www.census.gov).

Adobe CQ is a large-scale content management system geared for large organizations with often global infrastructures. It combines web content management, digital asset management and social collaboration to enable large organizations to manage large amounts of information, multiple websites and detailed workflow.

The Census website now has 1.3 million html pages and more than 120,000 PDF files that will be migrated in their entirety or undergo an archival process. Content migration to the new CMS will be done using both manual and automated processes, according to Census.

The customer engagement management (CEM) component of the Census plan involves “bringing together unstructured external customer feedback from diverse sources with customer behavior data in a dashboard interface,” according to a Census request for information.

The bureau has already developed a CEM prototype designed to help it “understand customer behavior when interacting with the agency and help identify the root cause of dissatisfaction from customers, opportunities to best satisfy customers.”

The agency said data sources for the CEM prototype include SiteCatalyst, ForeSee, GovDelivery. More sources might factor in Vocus, (a digital marketing suite), Sysomos (a social media monitoring tool), congressional correspondence and census.gov feedback forms.

The third leg of the plan, establishing a new search platform to improve user experience, is in its final stages of implementation. Some new features include providing search answers within results, answers before results and delivering search “best bets.”

Census said its work on search was designed to deliver a strategy to improve search of the site and “make Census data more accessible and user-friendly for the general public and other key audiences.”

The bureau is now seeking IT firms to continue its content migration – it plans to migrate the census.gov site to the CMS in a two-year timeframe – and enhance CMS templates.

Other items on the Census transformation to-do list include:

  • Design of a platform around customer experience metrics and analytics, integrating metrics or customer interactions, including  “dashboarding” solutions that visually present data.
  • Develop a responsive design website containing complex interactive content and assets.
  • Use agile principles to prioritize and select the appropriate data sources given the developer capacity available.



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