iPhone 8Source: iMore

What you need to know

  • The 2020 U.S. Census will be performed using the iPhone 8.
  • 500,000 canvassers will be equipped with an iPhone 8 and an app.
  • The government seems to have chosen the iPhone because of its popularity and security.

The United States Census has historically been performed by canvassers, called enumerators, fanning out across the country with pen and paper to gather information from neighbors and collectively perform the massive count of all citizens.

That is about to change in a big way this year. As reported by CNET, the U.S. Census Bureau is equipping all of its canvassers with an iPhone 8 and an app that they will be used in place of pen and paper. In total, the bureau is provided 500,000 of its enumerators with an iPhone in order to perform the count.

"In an effort to make the door-to-door process, which is the most laborious and expensive part of the census, faster and more efficient, the bureau is arming 500,000 enumerators with the Apple iPhone 8."

According to CDW-G, the contractor that the U.S. Census Bureau hired to help with the technological upgrade to the 2020 Census, the iPhone became the device of choice because of its familiarity and its security.

"The iPhone attracted the bureau in two key ways. First was familiarity. Apple is one of the most popular phone-makers in the world, and many of the canvassers, who undergo seven to eight weeks of training and are paid an average of $20 an hour, would already be familiar with its iOS software. CDW-G initially proposed using the iPhone 6, but once the iPhone 8 went on sale in 2017, the bureau was able to upgrade to it without an increase in cost."

A spokesperson for Apple says that the company is proud that the iPhone became the device of choice in order to carry out the 2020 U.S. Census.

"We are proud that the US Census Bureau will use the iPhone for the collection and management of 2020 census data ... the census is an important constitutional cornerstone that aims to ensure every one of us has equal representation, education and access in America."

You can read the full report about the role of the iPhone and apps for the 2020 U.S. Census at CNET.