There’s been a lot of conversation over the last week about the Australian Census being conducted online – questions about security, privacy and all kinds of similar concerns. But – perhaps a bigger question is – will your computer meet the Census’ minimum system requirements?

Minimum System Requirements are issued with all computer programs, games are a great example of this – making sure that the computer you have can actually handle the graphics or processing power of the game.

Online though, when browsing the web, the requirements relate to your browser. Ever been to a website that says “you need to use Firefox or Chrome” for this. Or perhaps the old classic of Flash being out of date or not installed.

According to the ABS, they’ve built the Census to be small in terms of data size (to ensure the servers can handle the load) and it’s quite accessible too, meaning the visually impaired using screen readers will be AOK on the night.

But, and it’s an important but – is your browser out of date?

Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 9.16.00 AM

The Minimum system requirements of the census are mainly about your browser:

Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 8.59.44 AMMinimum operating system requirements
  • Windows XP (Service Pack 3), Vista, 7, 8, 8.1 and 10
  • Mac OS X 10.7 Lion or later
  • Android 4.3 or later
  • iOS 7.0 or later.
Minimum browser requirements

Using the latest internet browser helps improve your security and makes completing your online Census form easier. To complete the online Census form you need to use one of these internet browsers:

Windows
  • Internet Explorer version 10 or later
  • Mozilla Firefox for Windows version 30 or later
  • Google Chrome for Windows version 30 or later
  • Safari for Windows version 5 or later
  • Opera for Windows version 20 or later.
Mac OS X
  • Safari for Mac version 5 or later
  • Mozilla Firefox for Mac version 30 or later
  • Google Chrome for Mac version 30 or later.
Linux
  • Chromium version 42 or later
  • Firefox for Linux version 30 or later.
Android
  • Google Chrome for Android version 43 or later
  • Firefox for Android version 41 or later.
iOS
  • Only Safari for iOS version 7 or later will work.

These browsers have been tested and confirmed to work with the online Census form. Other browsers may work, but have not been tested and are not supported. Beta versions of browsers have not been tested and are not supported.

One other thing:

JavaScript

Your internet browser must be set to allow JavaScript. Most browsers are supplied with JavaScript turned on and you should not need to change these settings. Please refer to your browser’s help function to find out how to change these settings.

So this is even more technical! But its critical. Here’s a great website to check your browser version and see if Javascript is enabled: https://www.whatismybrowser.com/

Will this be an issue?

For the majority – no. But what about those in the minority?

I had a little look at our own web traffic here at EFTM.com.au – 0.3% of people visiting this site would not be able to complete the census. And we’re a bit tech savvy here right? What happens when you throw in the bulk of the population.

Globally, it’s a bigger worry – over 8% of browsers according to “Net Market Share” are older than Internet Explorer 10. Lets hope it’s not that high in Australia.

Just using that 0.3% as a guide, that would be more than 30,000 Australian homes. Not significant in the overall scheme of a survey about what food you had for dinner, but when it comes to the Census, this is a big hit – particularly because it’s likely those users are in a specific age and socio-economic demographic.

How can I check?

Open up your browser (oh wait, you’re in it now), and click HELP > ABOUT (Browser Name) or on a Mac, click the browser name in the top menu bar and ABOUT (Browser Name). Check that version number against the list above.

Also, as mentioned – a simple website to check – https://www.whatismybrowser.com/

Critically, we’re talking about browsers older than 2013 or so – in some cases 2012 – so if you’ve got a 3-4 year old computer, you’ll be fine. If your computer is older than that – check the browser!

What to do if this affects you?

Well, first and foremost, check now. You can actually click the button to start the Census today – sure, you can’t complete it. But perhaps just perhaps, you’ll get a warning to check your browser – and if there’s an issue – order the paper form!

If you’ve got a mobile phone, the Census form is mobile compatible, so you can try your mobile phone too – but, I’m guessing that the folks using old versions of windows or old versions of browsers aren’t using the latest smartphones either:(

Update your browser!

Of course, there’s one other important take-away from this too. If you’re using an older browser, you’re vulnerable to security flaws in that. So, update!! Run a Windows Update or download the latest version of my recommended browser Chrome now.

Check your family!

Hey, call your Nanna will you – check that she’s ordered a paper form, or that she has her computer up to date – you want to make sure she’s counted in the Census right? Grandpa too 🙂