Whether or not you have participated in Census 2022 yet, chances are that you have thought about the importance of getting counted. Is the census about anything more than Government’s tax dreams? With a government that’s often and widely criticized, do we think these statistics will make a difference to our daily lives?
Perhaps we shouldn’t be too cynical about the census. The recent second release of Canada’s 2021 census results, gave some valuable insights into, amongst others, the population age and the changing social perspectives (especially when it comes to gender) of our society today. Such data is important in decision-making and the allocation of budgets. Perhaps any hesitance on our side could be because of mistrust or doubt in the ability of our government, but is that reason enough not to at least help them gather accurate data?
According to Stats SA: “The most important aspect in any society is human capital. Census is important because this process helps compile a numerical profile of South Africa. This in turn informs decision-making at all levels both in government and the private sector. A population census is a total count of the country’s population, where demographic, social and economic information, as well as information about the housing conditions of the people who live in South Africa is gathered. This information could, for example, be applied by the agricultural industry for business planning purposes – if you know the number and spread of your consumers, you will know how to plan for the distribution of your product.”
It is hard to disagree with this sentiment. While governing is not my expertise, I know a bit about companies and business. I like to argue that for anything to be successful, it should be run like a business. For a business it is of the utmost importance to value its human capital. Those that work at the company, contributing to its success and profitability and, of course, its customers, without whom there will not be a business. There is an undeniable and very important play between these two human resources. Knowing your customer and their demands, preferences and tastes will influence your offering and therefore also those you employ to produce the marketing strategy, the product development, the pricing structure, the look and feel… If a business has accurate research, it does a much better job at satisfying its customers and having happy staff. If, because of the census, Government has accurate data about the people of SA, they should be able to serve better and apply resources where they are required most.
Research can be quite difficult, time consuming and expensive. At the time of the birth of Christ, people had to travel to their ancestral cities to be counted! Much more recently, we still had to manually collect information and hope that the data would still be relevant by the time it got released. As someone who loves statistics and trends, I know that proper and reliable research is expensive. The way we are connected via our online profiles today, does, however, make data gathering much easier. Naturally, there are concerns about privacy and security, but is it not convenient that based on your online shopping or searching behaviour, algorithms can suggest products that fit your criteria? Whether you like it or not, our details are out there. While today, it is much easier to source data – whether it is about consumers or citizens – the emphasis should be on its accuracy and how the information determines focus and the allocation of resources.
Having access to precise data about our population is of the utmost importance to Government, but it is also essential to the private sector. A successful census is in the best interest of all – whether you rely on government support or want to capitalise on local consumer demands.
If you have not yet received a fieldworker at your door, complete the relatively concise census questionnaire online. You have until the end of April.