The last thing on your mind tight now is probably the U.S. Census — but it really shouldn’t be. An accurate census count for Delaware is necessary when it comes to funding some of the programs that meet our biggest challenges amid the coronavirus pandemic (and beyond), including healthcare, food and education.
The good news is that you can, for the first time, file the census online this year. By now, you should have received a letter with your household’s unique code, which you’ll need to enter in order to fill out the form online. You don’t need a whole computer to do it, either, since the census form has a mobile version.
Joe DiGiovanni, cofounder of Tapp Network, a Wilmington marketing and technology firm with a focus on nonprofits and an office at The Mill, represents one of the census’ local partners; others include Wilmington Alliance, NERDiT NOW, Delmarva Power, Christiana Hospital, Delaware Department of Technology and Information and Share Delaware. These organizations are working to get as close to the goal of having 100% of the Delaware population counted in 2020 as possible — even with setbacks like the closure of Delaware Public Libraries, where kiosks for members of the community without internet access at home could submit online.
Tapp Network’s job was to create an online information portal to help the partners work as a team and make it easy for organizations and individuals to find Delaware census information.
“Getting stakeholders coordinated is a big challenge,” said DiGiovanni, “so that’s what we do from a technology standpoint — like a ‘command central.'”
This central command is located at census.delaware.gov, where community members, leaders, organizations and census employees can find what they need easily, and data collection is mapped in real time.
One of the most important census data sets is the state’s Hard to Count Areas. The interactive map shows exactly which areas are being underrepresented and therefore may need more resources to get an accurate count. These areas are often high poverty urban and rural areas, and many have a high number of Black and non-English speaking residents — populations that are historically under-resourced, and who bear most of the brunt if the census results are low.
For example, if a public school has 1,000 students in its feeder on paper and 2,500 in reality, there will not be enough available resources, because the state has to use the number on paper as the basis for requesting federal funding.
The same goes for hospitals.
So, while it might not seem like the most important thing in the world right now, it’s especially important to get the count right in 2020.
After April 1, the Delaware census was set to deploy census takers into the streets for door-to-door surveying. Since in-person surveys are no longer an option on the scale planned, it is focusing on no-contact census reporting, including via phone submission at 1-844-330-2020 and my2020census.gov.
The sooner you submit your census, the fewer resources that will be needed to complete the count over the next three months.