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DRS provides technology for Myanmar’s first census in 30 years


Following a successful pilot census in 2012, DRS Data Services Limited provided the systems and services to support Myanmar’s first official census after 31 years in 2014. The census was carried out by the Ministry of Immigration and Population (MOIP).

The Challenge

DRS’s challenge was to provide a census solution for Myanmar’s MOIP that would be credible, reliable and secure. In addition DRS was called upon to provide a range of implementation, training and support services to ensure that the census could be delivered confidently and with integrity, whilst meeting all time, cost and quality requirements.

The Project

DRS provided the census forms, technology, training and support to manage the data capture process, having previously handled similar undertakings in Tanzania, Ethiopia, Malawi, Zambia, Sudan and Zimbabwe.

The project involved the design, printing and shipping of 16 million long and short form questionnaires, a total of eight PS900 high speed scanners, training for the core trainers and processing staff, as well as workflow advice and support for the duration of the data capture.

Nineteen 40ft shipping containers were packed full of printed forms and transported by sea to Yangon. Seven DRS scanners were shipped separately by air to join the scanners supplied for a pilot in 2013.

Form handling and completion training was delivered in the Ministry Building in Nay Pyi Taw during January and February 2014 at two training events. A video and presentation was delivered to the enumeration team leaders from various regions. The objective of the training was to help familiarisation with the tools, methodology, code of conduct and the reporting system.

During the census, a questionnaire was filled out in all of Myanmar’s 12 million households and institutions. Census forms were printed primarily in Myanmar with some English language forms for foreign visitors and residents.

The household form included data such as gender, age, marital status, religion and ethnicity of each household member, as well as disabilities and migration details. In addition various social and economic factors such as the main source of energy, water supply, toilet facilities, and the transportation the household had at its disposal were collected. Former household members living abroad and recent deaths in the household were also recorded.

The questionnaires were packed in specially designed boxes which prevented any damage during the transport and enumeration process. Once the forms were returned to the scanning centre they were collated and prepared for the scanning process which began during the first two weeks of May 2014. DRS staff were on-site to deliver systems and workflow training to the operational and technical teams. By the end of the second week the Myanmar census team were registering and processing up to 24,000 forms an hour, using Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) and Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR) software.

Around 50% of all forms were recognised automatically and sent directly through to a central database for analysis. However any ambiguity or uncertainty over character recognition - for instance, a ‘1’ sometimes resembling a ‘7’ - meant images of the documents were sent to a team of 80 ‘keying stations’ and were manually inspected for extra clarity. Thanks to the easy-to-use DRS software users were able on average to inspect 200 characters in less than 10 seconds. The software monitored the performance and accuracy of the PC operators and had quality control alerting such as changing the screen colour from blue to red, to alert supervisors that additional training was required.

The scanner operators found the scanners simple to operate and forms were scanned at great speed with high quality images produced. The keying team reported that the system was really easy to understand and use. The management team felt able to support the teams’ needs and ensured that staff were utilised in the most efficient way because the standard reports were easy to access and simple to interpret. 


The requirements for Myanmar’s census were explored in detail and DRS to ensure that the benefits provided by DRS PhotoScribe® Series OMR scanners, OMR & ICR forms and DRS software delivered accurate and transparent results on-time.

"Despite the lack of experience in conducting a population census and technical capacity in the modern technology of data processing, the Department of Population was able to successfully capture about 11 million census questionnaires within six months.

Strength and performance of the scanners were proved to be excellent. The department used the scanners 14 hours a day, having assigned two shifts during the scanning process. However, except for regular maintenance, the Department of Population did not face any hardware issues during the entire process.

One of the reasons the Department of Population was able to release the main results only thirteen months after the field enumeration was the reliability of the DRS scanner and operating system".

Dr K K Soe
Department of Population

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