The Importance of Data Integration

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) only undertakes data integration for statistical and research purposes. This means that the data is used to describe characteristics of groups within a population, and relationships that might exist between variables such as social and economic conditions, behaviours and outcomes. The integrated data cannot be used for regulatory or compliance purposes.

Many high priority public policy challenges, such as homelessness, climate change, and crime, do not fit neatly within one ministerial portfolio or a single agency’s set of responsibilities. Similarly, the information needed to address complex policy issues and research questions are often spread across a number of agencies.

Analysis of integrated datasets offers valuable opportunities to investigate more complex and expanded policy and research questions than would be possible using only separate, unlinked data sources. Integration can produce new official statistics to inform society.

Data integration can reduce the need for costly collections by better leveraging existing data to meet current and emerging information requirements. Maximising the use of existing data, rather than establishing new collections, avoids additional load on respondents, helps to ensure cost-effectiveness and can improve timeliness. Data integration is therefore a key strategy for maximising governments’ investments in existing information assets.

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