ABS mulls using big data to understand Australia's ICT landscape

What ICT statistics does Australia need? The Australian Bureau of Statistics wants to know

Big data and data generated as an 'administrative by-product' could be used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in an effort to understand the digital economy and Australia's ICT landscape.

A review conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Department of Communications will examine the potential to use alternatives to direct surveys when compiling ICT-related statistics.

The review is focussed on assessing what "the priority information areas for ICT statistics, as well as ways to improve the quality of digital economy data available for Australia’s decision-makers".

It will consider issues such as the definitions of digital economy, digital technologies and digital readiness and the gaps and limitations of existing ABS ICT statistics, state the terms of reference (PDF).

"The ICT sector is critical to Australia's national and global economic performance and it is important to understand the contribution the sector makes to the overall economy," states a discussion paper released as part of the review.

"However, measuring ICT is broader than measuring the ICT sector alone. To accurately measure the total contribution of ICT to the economy consideration needs to be given to the users and uses of ICT goods and services, as well as those who produce ICT statistics. ICT is an important enabler of innovation and contributes to productivity growth.

"It influences all aspects of the innovation process: aiding research and development; influencing the flow of knowledge; being integral to the running of organisations both large and small; being a vehicle for networking and collaboration; and also in many cases being the actual innovation product itself."

The project will be steered by a board with representatives from the ABS and Department of Communications and will also have input from the Department of Industry and Department of Finance.

Written submissions to the review are being accepted until 27 February and the ABS and department will also conduct stakeholder meetings.

The review is due to be completed before the end of the financial year in June.

Follow Rohan on Twitter: @rohan_p

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