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Census Web Site Tracks Participation

Taking into consideration privacy and security concerns, the bureau is not collecting 2010 census information online.

Though it's not yet possible to send the government census information online, U.S. residents are now able to track participation in the census and find assistance centers through a new site launched by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Through use of the site -- called the "Take 10 Map" the bureau aims to encourage residents of the U.S. to "take 10 minutes" to fill out their census information and mail it in. According to the site, 20 percent of U.S. residents have participated in the census so far.

Census information can only be sent in by mail or collected at a person's residence by an enumerator, or census bureau worker. Taking into consideration privacy and security concerns, the bureau is not collecting any information over the Web.

In fact, security vendor Symantec earlier this month specifically warned against being duped by cybercriminals who may use the census as the basis for online scams aimed at stealing personal information.

The Take 10 site explains that the bureau this year is tracking participation not by the total number of people who have mailed in forms, but by the percentage of forms mailed back by households that have received them.

"The Census Bureau developed this new measure in 2010, in part because of the current economy and higher rates of vacant housing," according to the site, which adds that the bureau is excluding households whose forms are returned by the U.S. Postal Service as "undeliverable."

The site may be used to find a particular area's participation rate by entering its ZIP code, or city and state in the search field. A search will show a national view of the map with a data window on the desired location to show the participation rate.

Iowa and Montana residents have been particularly compliant in the 2010 U.S. census.

Leighton, Iowa, currently has the honor of being the city whose residents have participated most in the census to date, with a 75 percent return rate on forms by households that have received them.

Four out of the top five cities in terms of census response were in Iowa, with Westside coming in second with 74 percent participation, and Castalia and Epworth coming in fourth and fifth, respectively, with 72 percent. Lyons Falls, a village in New York, came in third, with 73 percent participation.

On a state-by-state basis, Montana is currently ranked first in census participation, with 33 percent of residents having responded so far. Iowa shares second place with Wisconsin for its participation with 32 percent, followed by South Dakota and Missouri, with 31 percent each.

Demographic information is collected every 10 years. More information about the 2010 census can be found on the U.S. Census Bureau Web site.

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