Google to help track 2010 Census response rates
Updated 6:07 p.m. ET
The U.S. Census Bureau announced Wednesday that about 20 percent of census forms have been completed and sent back one week since they arrived in American mailboxes. Those figures suggest this year's census is set to match or surpass participation rates from 2000, officials said.
In an effort to drive those numbers up higher, the Census Bureau and Google have teamed up to track response rates in real time.
The agency will provide daily updates to the search engine, which will display the results using the Google Maps and Google Earth programs. Interested users will be able to track the percentage of census forms returned for each city, county and state by visiting http://2010.census.gov/2010census/take10map/.
While there, you can grab code for a widget that will track a specific geographic location through late April. (See the box above.)
The effort is partly competitive, but also a serious attempt to essentially shame people to return their forms by April 1 in order to drive up their area's response rates. (But will anyone even notice or care?)
Taxpayers can expect to save $85 million for each 1 percent of people that return their forms, the agency said. The Census Bureau would have to hire fewer census takers to knock on doors and get answers if more people return them in time.
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