Author Topic: Census Canada/Lockheed Martin  (Read 10800 times)

skdadl

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Re: Census Canada/Lockheed Martin
« Reply #15 on: May 10, 2011, 03:31:35 PM »
Well, instead of Herr M's rhetorical question below, if either of you knows how the forms are processed, can you explain it to the peasants?

Certainly, in my fairly lengthy experience, human proofreaders are much more reliable than is anyone doing data entry, so if data entry is involved ...

pogge

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Re: Census Canada/Lockheed Martin
« Reply #16 on: May 10, 2011, 03:54:58 PM »
The forms are designed to be read by optical scanners. This would be much more efficient and accurate than normal optical character recognition (OCR) -- the forms, the scanners and the software are designed specifically to do this job. It's all custom work which is why it's so expensive. If the forms won't scan, then they have to be entered the old fashioned way - by somebody sitting at a keyboard filling in the answers.

If you're arguing that you should be doing this to create jobs at StatsCan by ensuring that more forms have to be entered at a keyboard instead of being scanned in, I could understand it. Except that with this government, they're liable to set an arbitrary goal for cutting costs and if they don't get it here, they'll get it somewhere else. So even that's a dicey proposition.

Herr Magoo

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Re: Census Canada/Lockheed Martin
« Reply #17 on: May 10, 2011, 04:10:14 PM »
Quote
It was my understanding that we were still giving the gov't correct information, just forcing it to be processed manually. Is that not the point?

If I live at ||| Pennyplace Lane, is that 3 Pennyplace lane (in Roman numerals) or is it 111 Pennyplace Lane, in Arabic?

Also, regarding the "outsourcing" of this to U.S. contractors:  first of all, StatsCan isn't in the software application business, nor the optical hardware business, so it's perfectly normal and expected that they would hire someone who IS in the business to provide this.  Do you think that City Hall builds its own computers and authors the software for them??
 
Second, this "outsourcing" takes the form of an RFP and a call for bids.  Legal entities, such as Lockheed-Martin Canada are free to submit a bid, and via various rules, a vendor is chosen.  This is, of course, to stave off the inevitable and rightful criticism if some government official were to hire his brother-in-law's company to provide a 100 million dollar service to the government.  Google "procurement process" if you're curious about the details.
 
As I understand it, ONLY Lockheed-Martin bid on both parts of this contract.  What should the government have done?  Declared L-M to be vile iron mongers that we cannot sully ourselves by doing business with?  Make some new rules as they go along??
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skdadl

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Re: Census Canada/Lockheed Martin
« Reply #18 on: May 10, 2011, 05:26:17 PM »
I still don't understand most of what Herr M is saying (the Romans used serifs, btw), and some of what pogge is saying. Eg:

Quote
This would be much more efficient and accurate than normal optical character recognition (OCR) -- the forms, the scanners and the software are designed specifically to do this job.

That wld mean something to me only if I knew what "normal optical character recognition" was, which I don't. Do you mean reading?

Yes, I do believe it wld be preferable to create jobs at StatsCan by passing the forms through a certain level of skilled worker there, just as it's better to have our votes read the way they are than to vote by machine, although I recognize that there's no job creation connected to the greater safety offered by pencil, paper, and human reader. I always believe these things, partly from experience and partly from political conviction. I'm surprised anyone is surprised, and I'm certainly not moving on to the position where we acquiesce in moving the Overton window just b/c the Cons are moving it for the moment. Call me stubborn.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2011, 05:28:18 PM by skdadl »

pogge

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Re: Census Canada/Lockheed Martin
« Reply #19 on: May 10, 2011, 05:41:37 PM »
When you scan a photograph to get the image onto your computer, you're using an optical scanner. If you scan a document in the same way, you get an image -- a digital "photograph" of the document -- and not a file you can load into your word processor. If you have OCR software, you can use it in combination with your scanner and it will examine the "picture" and convert it into text which you can load into your word processor. OCR isn't perfect though I imagine it's more accurate these days than the last time I worked with it. Generally you have to take the results of an OCR scan and correct them. But OCR software will only set you back hundreds of dollars and not millions.

The census package involves forms, software and hardware (scanners) designed specifically to process census forms and turn them into data that can then be manipulated in the same any database can be manipulated.

Quote
Yes, I do believe it wld be preferable to create jobs at StatsCan...
Okay. But that's a different matter than punishing Lockheed Martin or punishing the government for choosing Lockheed Martin.

Adding: And you're still compromising the integrity of a process whose integrity we were trying to defend less than a year ago when Tony the Weasel announced that the census long form would no longer be mandatory.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2011, 05:45:54 PM by pogge »

Herr Magoo

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Re: Census Canada/Lockheed Martin
« Reply #20 on: May 10, 2011, 05:55:56 PM »
Canada Post has used OCR for years, to read postal codes.  That's why they don't really want them, say, written sideways, or in script.

Those that cannot be read are routed to a coder.  My old roomie, now in Mgt. at Canada Post, started his career as a coder.  He would sit in a special chair, and pieces of mail would be flashed in front of him on a vertical belt.  He had a special keyboard under each hand with which to enter the numbers and letters of the codes the machine could not read.  It took, according to him, about 2-3 weeks of training and practice to master the odd keyboards, and to reach the expected level of processing:  1600 pieces of mail per hour.  He was certainly paid a living wage, but the sheer mindlessness of the job ground him down in a big way.

If Canada wants some new jobs to come out of this, I might suggest creating jobs in the optical hardware field, or the OCR software field, so that perhaps in future, a nice benign, wholly Canadian company might be able to plausibly bid on tenders like this.

Regarding OCR at a smaller level, we used to use a fair amount of it back in the day, when legacy paper was still common, and had to be made digital.  Even in the early days they had an accuracy approaching 98%, which sounds incredible, but actually meant up to ten errors per page.  Easier than retyping, for some people, but far from turnkey.  Voice recognition software is in a similar boat.

Quote
the Romans used serifs, btw

If only we were Roman.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2011, 05:58:13 PM by Herr Magoo »
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skdadl

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Re: Census Canada/Lockheed Martin
« Reply #21 on: May 10, 2011, 06:06:31 PM »

But that's a different matter than punishing Lockheed Martin or punishing the government for choosing Lockheed Martin.

I disagree -- I think the three are very much connected. I don't think I'd say that I expect this particular move to punish Lockheed Martin, although in a just world they'd certainly be punished for quite a lot of other things. I just don't think we should be sending our tax dollars to merchants of death is all.

pogge

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Re: Census Canada/Lockheed Martin
« Reply #22 on: May 10, 2011, 07:03:23 PM »
I disagree --

But... but... but... I'm always right! You told me so yourself!

sparqui

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Re: Census Canada/Lockheed Martin
« Reply #23 on: May 10, 2011, 08:33:43 PM »
I don't think we can skirt the issue that Lockheed Martin has basically monopolized the technology that is considered most effective and efficient. Once that genie is out of the bottle it's hard to turn the clock back although personally I would love to see more Canadian jobs too. I would have preferred a contract where they bought the software and hardware required to do such work in-house and in another era that might have been considered.

poggee's fears seem very sound to me. It might fuel Harper to complete eliminate Stats Can and rely on private sources for data collection. The elimination of the mandatory long form census was probably only the beginning...  :crying
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skdadl

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Re: Census Canada/Lockheed Martin
« Reply #24 on: May 10, 2011, 09:46:23 PM »
I disagree --

But... but... but... I'm always right! You told me so yourself!

Well, if sparqui says you're right, then you're right. I guess.

Unfortunately or otherwise, I have contributed to creating a bit of a movement on Twitter. I have people writing to tell me that they're using green crayons or writing upside-down or ... whatever. Someone in Australia, and not even one of my regulars, just wrote to tell me how great he thinks the idea is.

I want you to know that the story about Ollie bringing up the hairball on the form is absolutely true -- that happened just before I saw Holly Stick's link and before I saw countmeout's fun options, which do include cat options. But Ollie's hairball is entirely original to Ollie!

Holly Stick! You started this! And then you bugged out on me. (Now she's gonna say something like "An RT does not imply an endorsement." Right? Am I right?)

Holly Stick

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Re: Census Canada/Lockheed Martin
« Reply #25 on: May 10, 2011, 10:35:02 PM »
...I want you to know that the story about Ollie bringing up the hairball on the form is absolutely true -- that happened just before I saw Holly Stick's link and before I saw countmeout's fun options, which do include cat options. But Ollie's hairball is entirely original to Ollie!

Holly Stick! You started this! And then you bugged out on me. (Now she's gonna say something like "An RT does not imply an endorsement." Right? Am I right?)
Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time...  :bolt
 
Sorry, skdadl, I can open a can of worms, but I don't have the time or the energy right now to get into a heated discussion of said worms.  :whistle
 
ETA: come to think of it, I got the link off of a tweet, possibly Antonia's... :confused
« Last Edit: May 10, 2011, 11:06:41 PM by Holly Stick »
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justme

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Re: Census Canada/Lockheed Martin
« Reply #26 on: May 11, 2011, 05:41:29 AM »
I filled in my census on-line (sorry gys) and there was a box at the end for comments/suggestions. I suggested that Canada should have mandatory long-form census. Probably completely a waste of time, but maybe a bit more to the point than green crayon?

Toedancer

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Re: Census Canada/Lockheed Martin
« Reply #27 on: May 11, 2011, 07:38:36 AM »
I did the same.
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Debra

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Re: Census Canada/Lockheed Martin
« Reply #28 on: May 11, 2011, 07:48:02 AM »
I also did it online and in the suggestions added that the long form needs to return and we need to stop outsourcing our information to arms dealers.
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Herr Magoo

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Re: Census Canada/Lockheed Martin
« Reply #29 on: May 11, 2011, 09:24:30 AM »
But you're not outsourcing any information to arms dealers.
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