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Chapter 15 - Statistical standards and infrastructure
The ABS also works closely with other agencies involved in the development of standards and frameworks, for example, minimum data sets for administrative collections are used jointly in publications with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
The national statistical standards, frameworks and methodologies align with international equivalents, and the ABS assists in the development of many key international statistical standards, frameworks and methodologies. For more information on the ABS involvement in international standards development, see chapter 16.
STANDARDS FOR INDUSTRY AND OCCUPATION
In 2005–06, a key focus was revision of the standard classifications for industry and occupation. These revisions were in line with revisions to international standards, and were completed in time to be used in coding of the 2006 Census of Population and Housing. The revisions of both classifications were done as joint projects with Statistics New Zealand (Statistics NZ), and also involved a number of stakeholders within Australia.
In 2005–06, a number of other projects updating standards were completed, in time for their use in the 2006 Census of Population and Housing. These included:
Metadata is information used to find data, to assist a user to understand that data (ie definitions and descriptions), or to guide a user in the appropriate use of that data (quality). Currently, much of the metadata for ABS collections is stored in local facilities (ie associated with the collection), and is sometimes difficult to reuse between processes, or as a corporate resource across collections. In recent years, the ABS has developed an end-to-end (E2E) Metadata Management Strategy to establish a metadata environment that:
Within the ABS, good progress has been made in relation to the implementation of the E2E Metadata Management Strategy. In 2005–06:
The Australian Standard Geographic Classification describes the geographic infrastructure (data, systems, standards and products) necessary to collect and disseminate statistics that have a spatial component.
During 2005–06, the Geography area of the ABS produced the 2006 edition of the Australian Standard Geographic Classification (ASGC) (cat. no. 1216.0), which will be used for the 2006 Census of Population and Housing and by a range of clients that need to relate their information to standard geography. The Geography area also coordinated the design of approximately 39,000 collector districts and produced approximately 100,000 maps to be used for the 2006 Census.
The Northern Territory office of the ABS provided advice and assistance to the Department of the Chief Minister on the Northern Territory Government project to adopt standardised regional and sub-regional statistical reporting boundaries for the Northern Territory, ensuring alignment with Northern Territory Statistical Subdivisions and Statistical Local Areas for the 2006 Australian Standard Geographical Classification.
Staff from the ABS SA office reviewing maps for the 2006 Census of Population and Housing dress rehearsal held in August 2005.
The ABS has developed a new geographical unit known as mesh blocks, which will be much smaller than the current smallest spatial unit – the collection district. It is estimated Australia will be divided into around 294,000 mesh blocks compared to 39,000 collection districts.
In September 2005, the ABS released Information paper: Draft Mesh Blocks 2005 (cat. no.1209.0.55.001), together with geographic information system (GIS) data for the whole of Australia, seeking views from interested parties on the draft mesh blocks. These views will be taken into account in finalising the design of mesh blocks for the 2006 Census.
Currently there is a wide range of geographic units in use in Australia, and many organisations have adopted their own geographical units to suit their needs, often without reference to units that are used by others. As a result, data cannot be readily integrated and compared between organisations. The development of mesh blocks will help address this problem, as they will be able to be aggregated to any geographical region. It is planned that mesh blocks will become the basic building block for all statistical, political and administrative regions in Australia, resulting in more accurate demographic analysis, which in turn will lead to improved government policy formulation and service delivery.
A facility has been developed to assign a statistical local area, collection district or mesh block code to an address or a list of addresses. This service will be available to external users who register with the National Data Network, in the second half of 2006, and it will enable them to allocate mesh block codes for their own datasets. The ABS is also looking at other ways to make the facility available more widely.
While the purpose of mesh blocks will be primarily as building blocks for more aggregated geographical units, some data may be output on a mesh block basis. However, their small size means that the detail of data available at mesh block level will be limited to ensure that confidentiality is protected. Basic demographic data from the 2006 Census, however, will be available at that level.