The Census count is used to help in the aid of drawing congressional maps and help the government decide how to spend the billions they have on budget for infrastructure, programs and other services each year. The census count also only happens every 10 years,(the last time it was taken was in 2010)but normally we're mailed a form that we're supposed to fill out and send back so that the census count can be processed. For the upcoming 2020 census count, the Census Bureau is considering taking things to the digital age and having people use their smartphones and the web to fill out the census forms online.
While taking into consideration that having people fill out the census forms online in a digital format could make things easier and quicker as the forms wouldn't have to be mailed back and forth through normal postage, it could also save tons of money from the budget that is normally spent on having people transfer that census data from the paper forms into the system. If the Census Bureau can save money on this aspect than there's more money for the government budget. Census Director John Thompson stated that "In 2020, we hope to use technology to reduce the overall cost of the census by potentially as much as $5 billion in taxpayer money compared with conducting it on paper (as in all past censuses)."
Having people take the census digitally of course doesn't ensure that citizens will fill out the forms, so the Census Bureau apparently has a plan for such occasions. The whole process begins with two trial runs of the digital census, where census workers in Savannah, Georgia and Maricopa County, Arizona will request citizens to fill out digital forms online this year. If people don't respond and fill out the forms digitally, census workers will show up to those residences where they will present a smartphone to have the forms digitally filled out on the spot. They will also be using Android smartphones to complete these two test trials according to Thompson. While nothing has started as of yet, the plans to move things over to smartphones is to be discussed this Friday by the Census Bureau via Webcast.