HOW DO WE GET THE NUMBERS ON THE PAGE?
Have you ever lain awake at night wondering how the various ABS agricultural publications get to appear on the ABS website? Just how do all those commodities and their various numerical permutations turn up in such an accurate, easy to read and educational format? Well, rest easy ... here is the answer.
Down in the deep south of our nation, in the picturesque little city of Hobart, nestled under the sheltering wing of (currently) snow capped Mount Wellington, you will find the industrious branch of the national ABS known as the Tasmanian State Office ... and in one far flung corner of that brightly coloured office you will find the Output Service Team, which in turn, is part of the greater Environment and Agriculture BSC. The Output Services team is made up of two separate sections; Client Services and Publications.
Client Services is responsible for just that; servicing our many clients who are wanting further information about agricultural statistics which may not be readily available in the web publications. The team responds to requests from a variety of clients who need to get more specialised and detailed data. The enquiries can range from relatively simple questions about where certain data can be found, to the provision of individually commissioned spreadsheets or data cubes that are specifically and distinctively customised to meet the client's requirements. Many of the more complex queries are passed on to the team from the National Information Referral Service (NIRS) who are usually the first point of call for most statistical enquiries. Where larger and more detailed data outputs are required, the Client Services team has the expertise and access to a wider variety of statistical sources to enable the task to be completed in a timely and professional manner. Because of the complexity of retrieving detailed data and the time involved, a charge is usually applied and agreed to by the enquirer prior to the Client Services beginning the task. Enquiries can be made to the Client Services team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephoning 03 6222 5939.
The Publications team is commissioned to transfer the data received by ABS to the printed and electronic page for wider dissemination to the world. The ABS gets its agricultural information from a variety of sources such as specialised surveys and regular contact with agricultural businesses and producers. How it gets and formulates the information to the pre publication stage is a complex process, which is probably best left for explanation in a future issue of "Ag Mag". However, put simply, the collected data is loaded into the ABS's Information Warehouse from where the Publications team derives the data for publication of its many monthly and annual/sub-annual publications. Here is a list of some of the agricultural publications (with their ABS website catalogue numbers) that emanate from the Tassie office:
* 4618.0 Water Use on Australian Farms
* 7101.0 Ag Mag - the agriculture newsletter
* 7106.0 Farming in Brief
* 7111.0 Principal Agricultural Commodities, Preliminary
* 7121.0 Agricultural Commodities
* 7122.0.55.001 Stocks of Grain Held by Bulk Grain Handling Companies and Grain Traders
* 7215.0 Livestock Products
* 7218.055.001 Livestock and Meat, Australia
* 7307.0 Wheat Use and Stocks, Australia
* 7501.0 Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia, Preliminary
* 7503.0 Value of Agricultural Commodities Produced, Australia
Once the data is derived from the Warehouse, the Publication team massages the numbers into tables, graphs and graphics and sends it through a process via a well worn and not always stable program which renders the data ready for input into hardcopy, but mostly electronic formats suitable for eventual publication via the ABS website.
The Publications team undertakes an extremely rigorous examination of the data used to ensure its confidentiality and accuracy prior to publication. The assembled data goes through a number of checking processes before it is finally signed off prior to the publications deadline. ABS takes pride in its reputation for accurate and relevant information and the Publications team is continually focussed on maintaining that reputation.
Some "tech-savvy" members of the Output Services team demonstrating the latest (?) statistical
dissemination tools; the Fuller's slide rule and the random number generator
To all of you who are contributors to the publications via regular returns of surveys and similar requests ... thank you for your participation ... and please be assured that the Output Services team, down here in Tassie, will continue to work on keeping your data safe and confidential and publishing it in the best and most effectively available manner.