Mesh Blocks: laying new foundations, Sep 2005

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September 13, 2005
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
Mesh Blocks: laying new foundations

The Mesh Block, a new geographical unit that will fundamentally change the way statistics are used in Australia, will be launched by Australian Statistician Dennis Trewin this evening.

Mr Trewin, who will be speaking at the Spatial Sciences Institute Biennial Conference in Melbourne, said today that "Mesh Blocks would lay new foundations for statistical geography in Australia."

Mesh Blocks will enable the ready comparison of statistics between geographical areas.

This has been difficult in the past because, just as the Australian colonies developed different and incompatible railway gauges, so different authorities at local, state and national levels in Australia have developed different ways of defining geographical areas.

This has meant that statistical data gained in each of these areas have not been able to be properly matched with other areas.

Statistics in a district defined by a state fire authority for example have not been able to be compared properly with those in a differently defined police district. This has implications for operational efficiency in emergencies.

The whole of Australia has been divided into 285,000 Mesh Blocks that contain between 30 and 60 households. Organisations will be able to use Mesh Blocks to build to any area they require and then compare their data to that of the ABS. Individual Mesh Blocks will only have very basic Census data, but aggregates of Mesh Block can contain a very rich source of statistical information.

Mesh Blocks should do away with a lot of the frustrations of comparing statistics. They will provide a standard, like a rail standard, which can be used as the basic unit not only for all of Australia’s statistical geography purposes, but ideally for all its political and administrative purposes as well.

Mesh Blocks provide comparable geographical areas so that data can be compared across collections, across subject matter and across organisations.

The next Census, on 8 August next year, will be the first to use the Mesh Block system.

Countries such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and New Zealand already use similar systems.