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1504.0 - Methodological News, Mar 2011  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 31/03/2011   
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Time Series Analysis Section's Flood Response

The January floods in Queensland, NSW and Victoria created havoc and hardship for hundreds of thousands of local residents and flagged the beginning of a long clean-up process for people, governments and businesses alike. The floods have also caused difficulties for statisticians. The temporary suspension of collection activities at the peak of the inundation occurred along with a deferment of local government and commercial businesses activity.

The Time Series Analysis team (TSA) responded quickly in the hope of helping Subject Matter Areas of the ABS to maintain consistent and high quality time series over the period affected by the floods. Specifically, TSA wanted to ensure that time series collection areas undertook a consistent approach to analysis, treatment and description of the real impact of the flood, while minimising the impact of artifacts introduced by compromised statistical processes.

TSA established early contact with collection areas to gauge the likely impact of the floods on data. This focussed subject matter area attention on the quality of time series and helped TSA to anticipate the kinds of action required to stabilise seasonal factors and ensure the trend estimate behaved within expectations. As part of the process, TSA maintained centralised documentation about the floods and related statistical activities, including a flood events timeline, content of press releases, publication commentary and action taken for time series collections.

In order to encourage communication between collection areas (as well as communication between them, TSA and the Statistical Services Branch) TSA organised a half day workshop. The workshop, held March 15th and sponsored by Peter Harper and Ian Ewing, was designed to inform on issues perceived by TSA and encourage collaboration, rather than to problem solve. It was attended by representatives of most collection areas that publish time series. At the workshop is was agreed that the attendees would continue to constitute a semi-regular forum to discuss issues that have arisen and to further communication activities. Importantly for the ABS, the forum continues to grow in numbers.

For more information on TSA activity in this area, please contact Evrim Aydin Saher on (02) 6252 5659, Alex Stuckey on (08) 9360 5378 or Philip Carruthers on (02) 6252 5307. Email: evrim.aydin.saher@abs.gov.au, alex.stuckey@abs.gov.au, philip.carruthers@abs.gov.au.


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