Science and Technology Statistics Update
Welcome to the 9th edition of the ABS' Science and Technology Statistics Update, a biannual electronic Newsletter released by the New Economy National Statistics Centre in Canberra. It provides you with information on statistical developments and data releases in the science and technology field.
We hope you find the Update useful and would appreciate any feedback you have to offer. Please send any comments to Andrew Major at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Previous editions of our Update can be viewed here, or by visiting the ABS Website.
Science and Technology statistics information on the ABS website
We have two "theme" pages on the ABS website. The theme pages provide links to current information on statistical releases and contacts. They will also enable you to link to other sites of interest. The theme pages are as follows:
Alternatively, the theme pages can be viewed by:
- Visiting the ABS website at: http://www.abs.gov.au
- Selecting Themes from the menu shown on the left side
- Selecting Information Technology or Science and Innovation theme pages
If you have any questions about our theme pages, please contact Andrew Major at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2 INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY (ICT) STATISTICS
2.1 ICT reference group
Although the ABS has a significant and well-regarded program of ICT collections and outputs, there has been no forum of ICT statistics stakeholders to discuss and address contemporary issues in this field of statistics. To ensure ABS ICT statistics remain relevant and appropriately focussed, the ABS has established an ICT Reference Group, involving government, industry, user and community representatives.
The overall objective of this new group will be to improve the usefulness of ICT statistics in Australia. The Reference Group will provide a high level forum for understanding, improving and developing ICT statistics. This will provide the opportunity for members of the Group to discuss and consider strategies to address contemporary ICT statistical issues, particularly in relation to:
The first meeting of the ICT Reference Group will be held late January/early February 2004.
- existing or planned activities in the area of ICT statistics;
- statistical priorities, based on policy, business and community requirements.
2.2 Household use of IT
The ABS publication Household Use of Information Technology, Australia (cat. no. 8146.0) was released on Wednesday 10 September 2003, in respect of 2001 and 2002.
The publication presents results from the Survey of Education, Training and Information Technology (SETIT), conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) between April and August 2001 and the General Social Survey (GSS), conducted by the ABS between March and July 2002. The statistics included in this publication present information about access to computers and the Internet in private households, and information about the use of computers and Internet by people aged 18 years and over in these households.
Some of the key findings from the publication are:
- In 2002, 61% of Australian households had access to a computer at home (up from 44% of households in 1998) and 46% of Australian households had home Internet access (up from 16% of households in 1998).
- 66% of Australian adults used a computer in 2002. The percentage of adults who used a computer was still growing, albeit relatively slowly from 60% in 1998. Adults were most likely to use a computer at home.
- The number of adults using the Internet continues to grow strongly, though the rate of growth is slowing. In 2002, 58% of Australian adults accessed the Internet, rising from 31% of adults in 1998. Access to the Internet at home has shown particularly strong growth during this period, from 13% of adults in 1998 to 43% of adults in 2002. Similar to computer use, adults were most likely to access the Internet from home.
- In 2002, the Internet was used by 23% of adults to pay bills or transfer funds (up from 17% in 2001), 21% of adults used the Internet to access government services (up from 16% in 2001) and 15% of adults shopped via the Internet (up from 11% in 2001).
- The number of Internet shoppers has increased by 34% since 2001 and the amount they are spending has also grown markedly. The percentage of shoppers spending up to $500 via the Internet decreased from 61% in 2001 to 46% in 2002, while those who spent over $1,000 increased from 19% in 2001 to 34% in 2002. Internet shoppers spent around $1.9 billion in 2001, which rose to at least $4 billion in 2002. Travel/accommodation was the most common purchase via the Internet.
More details are shown in the Main Features (cat. no. 8146.0).
2.3 Business use of IT
The ABS publication Business Use of Information Technology, Australia (cat. no. 8129.0) presents details from the ABS Business Technology Survey. The latest results were released on 26 February 2003 in respect of the 2001-02 financial year. Highlights from that release were shown in our June 2003 Update.
The Business Technology survey is an annual economy wide survey collecting information from approximately 12,800 private sector businesses about their use of computers, the Internet and the web. These businesses are randomly selected to represent all industries, with the exception of businesses in the following industries:
- Agriculture, forestry and fishing
- Religious organisations
- Government administration and defence
- Private households employing staff
The 2001-02 survey continued to cover access to and use of computers, the Internet and web sites by Australian businesses, as well as measuring the ordering of goods and services via the Internet. New to the 2001-02 survey were methods of Internet access by Australian businesses and the exploration of issues related to IT security.
More information from the 2001-02 survey can be found in the Main Features (cat. no. 8129.0).
Development of the 2002-03 survey is now complete and forms were despatched in July 2003. Questions asked in the 2002-03 survey were similiar to the 2001-02 survey. However, the key differences for the 2002-03 survey were the reduction of questions relating to IT security, and the inclusion of two additional questions in the 'Internet or Web selling' section of the form. These questions sought reasons for why businesses did not receive orders via the Internet, and systems used by businesses to receive orders via the Internet. The publication for 2002-03 is expected to be released in March 2004.
Planning for the 2003-04 survey is in progress, and will continue to collect employment and gross income to use for output classifications. The following topics are expected to be covered:
- Outsourcing for IT support
- IT security
- Online government services
- Internet access
- Internet connection type including broadband use and barriers
- Web presence, functionality and linkages to other business systems
- Internet commerce including income and linkages to other business systems
Sample design for the 2003-04 survey will undergo a major review in early 2004. It is expected that the sample size will be reduced as part of this review.
2.4 Government use of IT
The latest edition of the ABS publication Government Use of Information Technology, Australia (cat. no. 8119.0) was released on 28 May 2002. This publication presented results, in respect of the 1999-2000 financial year, from an ABS survey on the use of information technology and telecommunications (IT&T) by government organisations. This was the third ABS survey of IT&T use by government, with the previous collections being conducted in respect of the 1993-94 and 1997-98 financial years. The 1999-2000 survey provided information on government expenditure on IT&T and IT employment.
More details are shown in the Main Features (cat. no. 8119.0).
Development work for the 2002-03 survey is now complete and forms were despatched in September 2003. The 2002-03 survey will have a greater focus on financial data (as a key input to an ABS ICT Satellite Account) and less focus on the use of IT in government agencies. The Government Technology Survey will be reviewed to determine the appropriate future direction of the survey.
2.5 Farm use of IT
Data relating to computer and Internet access on farms are obtained from the ABS Agricultural Commodity Survey (ACS). The survey covers all farms with an estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) of $5,000 or more. The ACS is conducted annually except for 2000/2001 when the ABS conducted an Agricultural Census.
Additional data about computer and Internet activities undertaken by farms was collected in 2001/2002. This includes such information as accessing the Internet to find information on weather, markets, goods and services and government services; using the Internet to pay bills and use email; and using computers to manage farms records and finances.
Results for 2001/2002 are expected to be published in the ABS publication Use of Information Technology on Farms, Australia (cat. no. 8150.0) in February 2004.
Details (for the 1999/2000 release) are shown in the Main Features (cat. no. 8150.0).
2.6 Internet activity
On 1 September 2003, the ABS released the publication Internet Activity, Australia in respect of the March quarter 2003 (cat. no. 8153.0).
Some of the key findings from the latest survey are:
- There were 554 ISPs in Australia supplying Internet access services to 5.1 million active subscribers at the end of the March quarter 2003. This is a decrease of 9 ISPs (2%) over the six month period to the end of the March quarter 2003. Takeovers and mergers were the predominant reason for this decrease.
- For the first time, the total number of subscribers in Australia exceeded 5 million at the end of the March quarter 2003. This represents an increase of 521,000 subscribers (11%) since the end of the September quarter 2002. The majority of new subscribers (over 98%) were in the Household sector with over 4.4 million household subscribers in total.
- The number of access lines available to subscribers increased by 34% to 857,470 between the September quarter 2002 and the March quarter 2003. Matching this growth has been the increasing number of subscribers with permanent or non dial-up connections, with around 470,000 subscribers at the end of the March quarter 2003, an increase of over 34% from the end of the September quarter 2003. In particular, Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) connections increased by 65% reflecting the continued strong growth in broadband (access speeds equal to or greater than 256kbs) services. DSL continues to be the predominant technology utilised to deliver broadband services.
- The increasing uptake of broadband services is also evident in the continued, if less substantial, increase shown in the volume of data downloaded by subscribers, up 5% between the September quarter 2002 and the March quarter 2003.
- Monthly/Quarterly/Annual access plans remained the most popular access plans with almost 3.5 million subscribers, or 69% of all subscribers choosing this option. However, the strongest growth was in subscribers with Hourly Access plans, which increased by 456,000 (48%).
- The number of Points of Presence (POPs) declined by 285 (14%) over the six months to the end of the March quarter 2003. The main reason for declining POP numbers is the rationalisation of POP operations by ISPs through use of different access technologies such as 0198 numbers or sharing POP infrastrucuture supplied by infrastructure providers.
- At the end of the March quarter 2003, ISPs provided 1,687 POPS and 857,470 access lines across Australia, resulting in a average of 5.9 subscribers per access line. This is considerably lower than the average of 7.1 subscribers per access line at the end of the September quarter 2002. The move to broadband technologies contributes to the reduction in the ratio of subscribers to access lines due to the 1:1 nature of these 'always on' connections and their non-reliance on POPs.
More details are shown in the Main Features (cat. no. 8153.0)
The next survey for the period September Quarter 2003 will include new questions to reflect changes occurring in the industry. These questions will focus on broadband take-up and SPAM issues.
2.7 Information technology and telecommunications industries
The latest data available is for 2000-01, which was released on 19 September 2002 (cat. no. 8126.0). Key results were shown in our December 2002 Update.
The next survey will be called the ICT Industry Survey and will be undertaken in respect of 2002-03. Results are expected to be released in July 2004.
2.8 ICT regional information
Policy makers and others are increasingly interested in regional ICT data. Within the limitations of survey methodology, ABS is striving to meet this demand and is able to offer regional data as follows:
- Initial results from the 2001 Population Census were released on 17 June 2002, and second release data in November 2002. The Census included the following IT questions asked of all persons in the household:
|Did the person use a personal computer at home last week?||No|
|Did the person use the Internet anywhere last week?||No|
|Mark all applicable boxes||Yes, at home|
|Yes, at work|
- Data down to the Statistical Division level, in respect of farm use of IT, are collected via the ABS Agricultural Commodity Survey. Survey results for 1999/2000 are available from cat. no. 8150.0 and results for 2001/2002 are expected to be published in February 2004. Please refer to Section 2.4: Farm use of IT of this Update for more details.
- As the survey of Internet service providers (ISPs) includes all businesses, some regional data in relation to 'points of presence' are available at Statistical Division level. Please refer to Section 2.5: Internet Activity of this Update for more details.
2.9 ICT satellite account work
The ABS is compiling an ICT Satellite Account in respect of 2002-03. This compilation will be within the context of the balanced supply and use framework of the national accounts. An ICT Satellite Account enables data on all of the ICT goods and services produced and consumed by all sectors/industries to be brought together. This allows a more defined measurement and analysis of the impacts of these activities on the economy.
In 2001-02, the ABS undertook a pilot study on an ICT Satellite Account in respect of 1998-99 utilising the limited range of data that was available at that time. In our June 2003 Update, we included the key findings of this pilot study. As a result of the pilot study, extensive data collection is currently being undertaken to enable a more complete and detailed ICT Satellite Account to be compiled for the 2002-03 reference period. This involves collecting additional information from all sectors of the economy via a number of collection vehicles.
(a) Business Sector - data will come from the ABS Economy Wide Survey collections which include the Economic Activity Survey (EAS) and its related surveys including Manufacturing, Mining and Utilities Industries Surveys, Service Industries Surveys and the ICT Industry Survey; the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority collections for the bank and insurance industries; and the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics collections for broad acre and dairy agriculture industries.
(b) Government Sector - data will come from the ABS Government Technology Survey (GTS) which will collect a similar range of ICT employment and ICT expenditure data as the EAS collections. A different form will be used to collect data from public sector educational organisations.
(c) Household Sector - data will come from the ABS 1998-99 Retail Industry Survey in conjunction with activity data from the annual ICT use modules included in household surveys. Information from the ABS 2003-04 Household Expenditure Survey will also be used for verification purposes, subject to timeliness of early estimates of expenditure on ICT commodities.
For the business and government sectors, the range of data being collected to assist in compiling the ICT Satellite Account includes:
- ICT employment
- ICT expenses (eg. wages and salaries of ICT staff)
- ICT capital expenditure (eg. computer software capitalised)
- ICT capitalised wages and salaries and purchases of materials for capital work done by employees for own use (eg. development of software for in-house application)
- Information on ICT equipment donated to organisations will be requested from education organisations
Results from the 2002-03 ICT satellite account are expected to be published in March 2005.
For more information, please contact Tim Power at email@example.com.
3 RESEARCH & EXPERIMENTAL DEVELOPMENT (R&D) STATISTICS
3.1 Business R&D survey 2001-02
The processing of the Business R&D survey for the year 2001-02 has been completed and results have been released. Details of R&D expenditure and human resources devoted to R&D classified by type of expenditure, location of expenditure, source of funds, business employment size, type of employee, research fields and socioeconomic objectives are available.
Summary statistics are contained in the publication Research and Experimental Development, Businesses, Australia (cat. no. 8104.0) which was released on 7 August 2003.
Key findings included:
3.2 Higher education R&D survey 2002
- In 2001-02, Business Expenditure on R&D (BERD) was estimated to be $5,546m at current prices, 13% higher than that recorded in 2000-01. This is the highest level recorded and is the second successive year of significant increase following the declines from 1995-96 to 1998-99 and the levelling off between 1998-99 and 1999-2000. In volume terms, BERD was 8% up on 2000-01 and 4% above the previous peak level of 1995-96.
- BERD as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased to 0.78% in 2001-02, the second successive increase following decreases between 1995-96 and 1999-2000. The percentage remains well below the high of 0.87% in 1995-96. Australia's BERD/GDP ratio remains relatively low when compared with those available for other OECD countries.
The survey of R&D undertaken by higher education organisations in 2002 is currently being processed. Details of R&D expenditure and human resources devoted to R&D classified by type of expenditure, location of expenditure, source of funds, type of employee, type of activity, research fields and socioeconomic objectives were collected.
Summary statistics for 2002 will be included in the publication Research and Experimental Development, Higher Education Organisations, Australia (cat. no. 8111.0) which should be released in March 2004.
3.3 Business, government and private non-profit R&D surveys 2002-03
The surveys of R&D undertaken by businesses, government organisations and private non-profit organisations in 2002-03 are underway. Details of R&D expenditure and human resources devoted to R&D classified by type of expenditure, location of expenditure, source of funds, type of employee, type of activity, research fields and socioeconomic objectives are being collected.
Summary statistics for 2002-03 will be included in the publications Research and Experimental Development, Businesses, Australia (cat. no. 8104.0), Research and Experimental Development, General Government and Private Non-Profit Organisations, Australia (cat. no. 8109.0) and Research and Experimental Development, All Sector Summary, Australia (cat. no. 8112.0) which should be released in July/August 2004.
3.4 International standards
The ABS surveys of R&D are conducted in accordance with standard guidelines promulgated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and contained in the OECD publication, The Measurement of Scientific and Technological Activities ('Frascati Manual' 2002, available as a free PDF file by visiting http://www.oecd.org).
4 BIOTECHNOLOGY STATISTICS
There is growing recognition worldwide that biotechnology offers many opportunities for delivering economic and social benefits to citizens of both developed and developing countries. However, there is currently little statistical information available to monitor the diffusion of biotechnology and to assist with policy choices.
The ABS is continuing to participate in an OECD Working Group which is developing a set of internationally comparable biotechnology statistical indicators. This work has formed the basis for the development of strategies for the collection of Australian biotechnology statistics. Papers have been prepared specifying user requirements, international experiences and outlining various strategies, including the collection of additional data in the existing R&D surveys and the conduct of a new biotechnology survey.
Development work is now underway on a biotechnology survey to be conducted in respect of 2003-04.
5 HUMAN RESOURCES BY SELECTED QUALIFICATIONS AND OCCUPATIONS
Human Resources by Selected Qualifications and Occupations, Australia 2001 (cat no. 8149.0) was released on 16 May 2003. The data are comparable to that included in the previous edition of this publication which was titled Human Resources in Science and Technology (HRST), Australia 1996.
We included a summary of key findings in our June 2003 Update. More details are shown in the Main Features (cat. no. 8149.0)
6 KNOWLEDGE BASED ECONOMY AND SOCIETY (KBE/S) FRAMEWORK AND INDICATORS
A new ABS electronic product titled "Measures of a knowledge-based economy and society, Australia" was released on 5 September 2003. It presents indicators for the three core dimensions described in the ABS Discussion Paper: Measuring a Knowledge-based Economy and Society -- An Australian Framework:
The product draws from a variety of information on knowledge-related activities and makes it easy to access through the ABS website. It presents indicators within the above dimensions with a focus on national information and includes selected international comparisons.
New indicators will be introduced over time and updates to indicators will occur continually as new information becomes available.
The ABS welcomes comment on this product. To provide feedback or to request notification of updates please contact Tricia O'Reilly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The ABS is conducting an innovation survey in early 2004. The reference period will be for the calendar year 2003. The survey will be compatible with OECD/Eurostat guidelines (as outlined in the "Oslo Manual (Innovation)", available as a free PDF file by visiting http://www.oecd.org) and will include technological, organisational and managerial innovation in a wide range of industries, including service industries.
Current state of innovation-related statistics
Much of the material described in this Update bears on innovation in one way or another. The ABS has not conducted a survey of innovation activities since 1996-97. Such innovation data provide a direct measure of the degree to which Australia is innovating and can be obtained through industry-wide business surveys. The focus of future ABS work on innovation will be relating such activity to its impact to productivity and growth performance.
What is an "innovation survey" and what information can it provide?
An innovation survey is a survey of businesses which ascertains what proportion and types of business are innovating (ie. introducing new products and processes), what types of innovations are occurring and what impact they are having on the output and productivity of the businesses concerned.
Other issues to be addressed include the:
- costs of innovation
- extent of linkages between firms and higher education institutions
- links between innovation and management practice
- links between innovation and growth/productivity outcomes
- sources of funding
The survey form will be sent out in early 2004. Results are expected late in 2004. For further information, please contact Glyn Prichard at email@example.com.
8 FOR MORE INFORMATION ...
For more information, please contact Andrew Major at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our theme pages on the ABS website.
We would like to take this opportunity to wish all our readers a happy new year.