For the first census of the 21st Century, the US Census Bureau is finally entering the 20th. In 2010, when the next census is conducted, the agency will use handheld computers, rather than relying on notepads for door-to-door visits. The agency says the plan will keep costs down as well as making the count more accurate. The handhelds will be made by smartphone manufacturer HTC, and will run a version of Windows Mobile. Concerned Census Bureau officials have been assured that the HTC units won't replace their BlackBerrys, and will be used solely for data collection, not as smartphones (despite the fact that, coming from HTC, they'll probably be very capable smartphones with messaging and calling functions turned off for this project). The equipment is expected to be deployed this year or next by Florida-based Harris Corp., which won a $600 million contract to run the field operation. According to Census Bureau officials, the switch from paper to PDA will save money, though the total cost for the 2010 census is still expected to be as much as $12 billion, double that of 2000.

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Census Bureau to use HTC handhelds in 2010