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WWT and Dell Technologies Put 2020 Census on Solid Ground

Leveraging WWT's North American Integration Center, WWT and Dell Technologies worked together to deploy the technology needed to support more than 250 Census field sites across the nation, 2,000 remote Census workers and two large Paper Data Capture Centers.

The U.S. Census Bureau turned to technology to improve the efficiency and accuracy of the 2020 Decennial Census process. Digital operations play an integral role in the counting of an increasingly diverse and growing population — around 330 million people in more than 140 million housing units — requiring a strong technology foundation.

The 2020 Census includes the use of the Internet to increase self-response, enumerators with handheld devices to capture information in the field and the automation of operations to increase the productivity of Census field offices. The Bureau also has modernized its data center operations to strengthen security, manageability and performance.

When the 2020 Census counting began on April 1, everything needed to be in place and working smoothly. A reliable IT infrastructure supporting more than 250 field sites around the nation had to be in place from day one. 

Establishing the Technology Base

Under a sub-contract agreement with the Census Bureau, WWT, in partnership with Dell Technologies, deployed the technology to support that entire infrastructure, site by site. The deployment involved a vast array of both enterprise and end-user IT equipment. 

This initiative involved more than just standing up traditional office environments. Decennial operations rely on the development and deployment of a national infrastructure, with a network of field offices built across the country from the ground up. The printing requirement gives a sense of the scale of the project. During the 2020 Census, the Bureau will require thousands of printers functioning non-stop, involving several hundred thousand toner cartridges.

The deployment of equipment to all sites required a high degree of integration and engineering work, which included the coordination of the imaging of hundreds of desktops and laptops each day. At the height of the program in June and July 2019, WWT was managing equipment deployments needed to stand up as many as 25 sites across the U.S. per week. At the same time, WWT delivered 2,000 kitsto remote Census workers at their homes, while also equipping two large Paper Data Capture Centers. Each kit had the IT components needed to set up a home office environment, including laptop, printer, projector and phone.

Increased Deployment Speed

This speed to deployment is made possible because of WWT’s North American Integration Center. The Integration Centers are climate-controlled production environments with advance networking, secure remote access and certified procedures. Equipped with certified professionals who have logistical and technical expertise, WWT’s Integration Centers are designed for staging, kitting and configuring advanced technology solutions. Additional benefits include: 

  • 50 percent increase in technology deployment speed.
  • 35 percent decrease in field engineering costs.
  • 20 percent increase in order processing speed.
  • 7 percent decrease in maintenance costs.

WWT has the resources to rack and stack components from multiple manufacturers — including Dell Technologies — into ready-to-deploy systems. 

WWT worked in partnership with Dell Technologies within these Integration Centers to ensure that the Census Bureau had the best-of-breed capability. WWT handled all the pre-shipment integration of systems and sending the equipment to the various field sites, which were deployed on site. Building the right team was critical to success, and WWT’s partnerships created a collaborative framework capable of meeting the unique demands of this program. WWT’s logistical experts ensured that the equipment arrived at the WWT facilities on time, then technology experts configured it, packed it up and shipped it to the field offices. 

WWT’s deployment time for standing up an office ranges from one to three days, a crucial factor in equipping the Census Bureau. In any given week, the scope of services for this project could change and WWT engineers often had as little as a week’s notice — sometimes less — to make the necessary configuration changes. To put this into perspective, at the height of the program, WWT was packaging and shipping close to 75,000 individual pieces of equipment in a month and imaging an average of 200 Dell laptops and workstations per week.

“WWT knows about large-scale deployments, whether for Census, the Department of Defense or some other entity,” according to John Garrett, Senior Director of Civilian from Dell who worked on the Census Bureau contract. “WWT is resilient at doing best practices and sharing its methodology behind deployments with its OEMs.”

“Census liked the fact that WWT could bridge all the OEMs and bring a unified solution to the customer,” John Garrett noted. Dell contributed its industry-leading laptops to the engagement. 

An Evolving Process

As part of the program, WWT is looking at current best practices and what has changed in the technology landscape. Over the course of the project WWT acquired over a million items that had to be integrated and sent to the more than 250 different remote sites correctly — with a service level agreement that requires 100 percent accuracy. Increasingly, government agencies like the Census Bureau will need trusted partners who can integrate commercial technology to develop innovative solutions for their emerging requirements. WWT and its partners are uniquely positioned to provide the expertise and comprehensive solutions to help federal organizations achieve mission requirements. 

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