1504.0 - Methodological News, Sep 2010  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/09/2010   
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ABS REEM Project: Update on progress

An article "Enhancing User Access to Microdata in Australia" appeared in the December 2009 Methodological News. It provided background information on future strategies for microdata access. Remote Execution Environment for Microdata (REEM) was identified as a possible replacement for Remote Access Data Laboratory (RADL).

Since then a number of milestones had been achieved by the REEM Project and one of them is the first stage of development of the Survey Table Builder (STB) which is a similar tool as the Census Table Builder (CTB).

The STB allows users to interact with the user interface or alternatively, the Statistical Data and Metadata Exchange (SDMX) Web service, to produce tabular outputs from categorical household survey data. The REEM Project team is finalising the database that can be loaded for the STB before REEM Stage 1 can go 'live'. That is, to make it available to a small number of external pilot users to gather feedback on its usability and functionality.

In addition to the first stage development of the STB, REEM Stage 1 also managed to achieve the following milestones:

  • a functionality to describe ABS household categorical data using Data Documentation Initiative (DDI) in an automated way from existing ABS metadata stores;
  • availability of the confidentiality routine for household survey data (that is, perturbation and additivity routines for Census data have been updated to confidentialise weighted count estimates);
  • a fully functional SDMX Web service which is a machine to machine query service for generating tabular outputs; and
  • Relative Standard Errors (RSE) calculation has been added to the STB (including the standard ABS annotation of the quality of estimates produced based on RSE values).

In addition, REEM Stage 1 has acted as a catalyst for the broader ABS program of the implementation of DDI and SDMX. It is serving as an early demonstrator of the practical feasibility and benefit of applying these standards both internally and externally. It is also serving as an early pathfinder and exemplar for other ABS (and National Statistical Service) developments that will make use of DDI and/or SDMX in the future.

REEM Stage 2 is currently on-going and focuses on enhancing STB to produce key outputs from continuous household variables (such as income) by the end of this financial year. Stage 2 also continues to research automated confidentiality methods for analytical outputs. A user engagement strategy will be undertaken in the next two months to assess detailed user requirements in terms of analytical outputs from microdata.

If you would like further information, please contact Melissa Gare on (02) 6252 7147 or m.gare@abs.gov.au.