Business

Gone paperless: Statin keen to share technology with Caricom

BY SHAMILLE SCOTT Business reporter scotts@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, January 16, 2013    

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THE Statistical Institute of Jamaica's (Statin) will introduce its new electronic data collection system (Edacs) to Caricom.

Now that its new data collection system, Edacs, an electronic system operated on the Hewlett-Packard (HP) Slate 2 tablet has been unveiled, Statin is key on sharing the system with other Caribbean territories.

"They would be very interested as they face the same problems," said Sonia Jackson, director general of Statin. "When (Caricom) met last year, I indicated that the agency was in the process of rolling out the device that would make data collection faster and easier."

But, if the other countries find it acceptable, they, like Statin, would have to get funding to support the system.

Edacs will enable the state-run agency's staff to collect data from the field, which will immediately be fed into a system at the head office for analysis.

The software, which was developed by Statin's information technology unit, will reduce errors and lessen the input time for data as the information does not have to be re-keyed, unlike with the paper-based system.

Though Edacs has the potential to earn some revenue for the agency, Jackson said the developers would need the systems in place to provide support, if the device is used elsewhere.

"We can't say it would be a huge earner for us," she said.

Already, the system is functional to gather data for the consumer price indices, the producer price indices and labour force surveys.

"With the new system, staff has completed a week's work in two days," said Howard Hamilton, Statin's director of information and technology.

The device has a handwriting feature, in addition to a keyboard. Frequent backups of the information are also made.

Prior to this, it took as many as 30 days to input data.

In the meantime, Hamilton said the team is looking at other designs for the second phase that will collect data for the survey of living conditions, household expenditure survey and the adhoc surveys.

Statin has always been a paper-based operation, the agency said.

It is in the process of redesigning and re-engineering its business processes with the use of technology and innovation.

The system, according to Hamilton, was designed to protect the country's data in the event of theft.

As for the tablet, a seal bearing Statin's logo is placed at the back of it.

"At a glance, you'll know it's ours. That seal will take a considerable amount of time to be removed," Hamilton said.

The staff was trained on how to secure the device and was advised on their personal security when travelling with the tablet.

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