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Data processing

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Data capture

The Census of Agriculture and Census of Population questionnaires go their separate ways once they arrive at the Data Processing Centre in the National Capital Region. There they are sorted, electronically scanned and the data automatically captured using Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR) software, a technology that reads data from images. Any responses not recognized by the ICR process are sent to a Statistics Canada employee who views the questionnaire image and enters the correct data into the system.

Edit, follow-up and imputation

Once the data have been captured, they are loaded to an automated processing system that takes them through detailed edit, follow-up and imputation processes. The data are first subjected to many rigorous quality control and processing edits to identify and resolve problems related to inaccurate, missing or inconsistent data. Those records with problems that cannot be resolved in editing receive a telephone call from a Statistics Canada employee to clarify the missing or incomplete data. Finally, those situations that cannot be resolved through either edit or follow-up are handled by an imputation procedure that replaces each missing or inconsistent response either with a value consistent with the other data on the questionnaire or with a response obtained from a similar agricultural operation.

Data validation

Data validation follows the edit, follow-up and imputation processes. At this stage, Statistics Canada analysts review the aggregate data at various geographic levels and examine the individual values, large and small, reported for each variable. The data are compared with previous census results, current agricultural surveys and administrative sources. Errors remaining due to coverage, misreporting, data capture or other reasons are identified and corrected. Where necessary, respondents are contacted to verify their responses. Near the end of the validation process, certification reports, containing results of the analysis and recommendations for publication, are prepared and presented to a review committee.

Data security

The security of your information is of paramount importance to Statistics Canada. Census data are stored on Statistics Canada systems that are isolated from any other network. External devices, such as telephone dial-in services that connect to Statistics Canada's systems where confidential data are stored, are not available, making it impossible to break into Statistics Canada's databases.

In addition, Statistics Canada has controlled access to its premises so that only persons with the appropriate security clearance who have taken the oath of secrecy may enter facilities housing confidential data. Any private sector employees needing entrance to these premises are escorted at all times by a Statistics Canada employee.