Census 2020

Herman Hollerith's census card reader machine.
U.S. Census

The 2020 census is going digital. We recently brought you a story of how this technological innovation could lead to undercounting Native Americans who live on tribal land.

Today, we’re flipping that equation and rather than looking at how computer technology is affecting the census, we’re asking how the census has affected the development of computer technology.

Public Domain

When the 2020 census gets underway in April, it won’t be with the traditional questionnaires in the mail. Instead, for the first time, most households will receive an invitation to participate in the census online.

The switch is billed by the Census Bureau as both a technological innovation and a cost-saving measure. But it could leave communities with limited internet access significantly under-counted.