8101.0 - Innovation and Technology Update (Newsletter), Sep 2000  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/09/2000   
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2.1 Household Use of IT
2.2 Business Use of IT
2.3 Government Use of IT
2.4 Farm Use of IT
2.5 Internet Activity
2.6 Information Technology and Telecommunications Industries
2.7 IT Regional Information

2.1 Household use of IT

Data from the quarterly Household Use of Information Technology surveys for 1999 have been consolidated to produce average annual estimates at State and Territory levels. Results were published in
Household Use of Information Technology, Australia, 1999 (Catalogue no. 8146.0), released in June 2000. Previous editions of this publication are available for 1998 and 1996.

The four surveys conducted during 2000 will be the last quarterly Household Use of Information Technology (HUIT) surveys conducted by the ABS. The Population Survey Monitor (PSM), through which the data are currently collected will be conducted for the last time for the November quarter 2000. The ABS is currently developing an annual collection vehicle to replace the PSM. For 2001, a subset of the HUIT module of questions has been incorporated into the Survey of Education and Training (now called the Survey of Education, Training and Information Technology - SETIT). A similar data release to the annual HUIT publication is expected to be released from SETIT in early 2002.

The latest data release from the quarterly surveys was for May 2000, released on 25 August 2000 in Catalogue 8147.0.

Key indicators from the May 2000 Household Use of Information Technology survey included:

  • Over half (54%) of all Australian households (3.8 million households) had a home computer in May 2000, an increase of 18% over the May 1999 estimate of 3.2 million households.
  • One third (33%) of all households (or 2.3 million households) had home Internet access compared with 22% in May 1999.
  • In the 12 months to May 2000, an estimated 6.4 million adults (46% of Australia's adult population) accessed the Internet compared to 5.5 million adults in the 12 months to May 1999.
  • 6% of Australian adults (802,000) used the Internet to purchase or order goods or services for their own private use in the 12 months to May 2000. This is an increase of 23% over the 650,000 adults who did likewise in the corresponding period to May 1999.
  • Books/magazines, computer software and music were the three most common (36%, 18% and 18% respectively) types of goods or services purchased or ordered for private use in the 12 months to May 2000.
  • In the three months to May 2000, 8% of adults used the Internet to access government services, 8% of adults used the Internet to pay bills or transfer funds, 51% used the telephone to pay bills or transfer funds, 67% used EFTPOS and 74% used an ATM.
The 2001 Population Census will include two questions on IT. For details of these questions please see section 2.7.

The supplementary topic for the April 2000 Labour Force survey was children's culture/leisure activities. The survey included a number of questions on children's use of computers and the Internet, for instance, whether they used a computer/the Internet in the previous 12 months; and where, what for and how often they used a computer or the Internet. The survey also included household level information on computers and Internet access. As the sample population in the Monthly Labour Force Survey is significantly larger than that used for the Household Use of Information Technology Survey, there should be an opportunity to produce some more detailed IT statistics from this collection. Data will be released towards the end of this year.
2.2 Business use of IT

Economy wide business technology use surveys were conducted in respect of 1993-94 (mainly on computer use) and 1997-98 (covering computer use, Internet access, e-commerce activities and barriers to the use of technology). The 1997-98 statistics were released last year in Catalogue 8129.0. The Main Features of this release are on the ABS web site.

Survey forms were despatched in July for the 1999-2000 business use of technology survey. This survey concentrates more on use of the Internet, especially the world-wide web (WWW) for e-commerce activities. A larger sample size will enable better geographic dissection than available from previous surveys. Barriers questions in relation to the Internet and the WWW are included in the 1999-2000 survey. Data are expected to be released in December this year.

Due to the rapid increase in the number of businesses connected to the Internet and their growing use of e-commerce, the ABS has decided to conduct annual collections of business technology use.

2.3 Government use of IT

Highlights from the 1997-98 Government Use of IT survey released in December were included in our previous Update. The 1997-98 statistics were released last year in Catalogue 8119.0. Main Features of this release are on the ABS web site.

Survey forms for the 1999-2000 Government Use of IT survey have been despatched and final output should be available about the middle of next year.

Data items collected in the 1999-2000 survey include:
  • IT & T employment and expense items including contract/outsourcing payments,
  • use of current and emerging technologies,
  • electronic service delivery ie. services offered and how delivered,
  • details on the content of web site or home page, and
  • details of outsourcing arrangements.
The ABS intends to conduct Government IT use surveys every two years.
2.4 Farm use of IT

Preliminary results from the information technology questions on the 1998-99 Agricultural Commodity Survey (ACS) were released in December (Catalogue no. 8134.0) and highlights were included in the previous
Update. Main Features of this release are on the ABS web site and can be accessed from Main Features or through the Information Technology theme page.

A supplementary questionnaire was sent to those respondents reporting use of the Internet on the 1998-99 ACS.

The following items were collected in the supplementary survey:
  • where the Internet was accessed,
  • how often the Internet was accessed,
  • cost of Internet use,
  • Internet services accessed, and
  • e-commerce information, ie. type of e-commerce, value of e-commerce and value of e-commerce paid for on-line.
Results from the supplementary survey of farms with Internet access will be released in Use of Information Technology on Farms, Australia, 1998-99 (Catalogue no. 8150.0) due for release in October.
2.5 Internet activity

There is a strong demand from government and industry users for regular statistics on Internet activity. The ABS has now completed the development of a quarterly survey of Internet service providers (ISPs); questionnaires for the June quarter 2000 were despatched in July.

Data items currently collected include:
  • Subscriber details:
    number and type of subscriber,
    volume of data sent to subscribers,
    access plan type,
    total time spent on line, and
    amount paid;
  • Service issues:
    number/type of account,
    web site information,
    technical support provided to clients, and
    ISP related services provided;
  • Infrastructure:
    number of phone lines, and
    Point of presence details.
The main purpose of the survey is to provide a set of regular partial indicators of Internet activity in Australia. As the survey will be a census of all Australian ISPs, it is expected that some quarterly regional data will be able to be produced.

The first information from the collection should be released in January next year (Catalogue no. 8153.0).

2.6 Information technology and telecommunications industries

Preliminary 1998-99 results from an ABS survey of the production and distribution of information technology and telecommunications goods and services were released at the end of May (Catalogue no. 8143.0). Industries surveyed included computer services, telecommunications, IT manufacturing and IT wholesaling.

The release showed that the information technology and telecommunications (IT&T) industry had changed significantly over the three years to 1998-99. Highlights included:
  • The Australian IT&T industry's total income in 1998-99 was $59 billion, an increase of 21% over 1995-96. The industries contributing to this outcome were telecommunication services with an increase in income of 40% since 1995-96, computer services with a rise of 32%, wholesale trade with a rise of 12% and manufacturing with a fall of 33%.
  • Revenue from the domestic production of IT&T goods and services in 1998-99 was $39 billion, 27% higher than in 1995-96. Telecommunication and computer services recorded increases of 40% and 31% respectively, however, production of manufactured IT&T goods decreased by 27% over the three year period.
  • The decline in domestic production of manufactured IT&T goods was offset by a 21% increase in imports of these products.
  • At 30 June 1999, Australia's IT&T sector consisted of 18,469 IT&T businesses, an increase of 36% since the last survey in 1995-96. There were 195,580 persons working in IT&T businesses, representing a 4% decrease since 1995-96.

Final results for the computer services industries were released in Catalogue 8669.0
Computing Services Industry, Australia, 1998-99 on 28 August. Main Features of this release are on the ABS web site.

Final results for the remaining IT&T industries will be released in 8126.0 Information Technology, Australia, 1998-99 (expected to be released in October).

Telecommunications Services data for 1998-99, previously published separately in 8145.0, will be included in 8126.0.

Work is about to commence on development of the 2000-01 collection. At this stage no major changes are expected to be made to the survey.2.7 IT regional information

Policymakers and others are increasingly interested in regional IT & T data. Within the limitations of survey methodology, ABS is striving to meet this demand and is, or will be, able to offer regional data as follows:

  • The April 2000 Household supplementary survey (referred to in section 2.1) should provide better regional data than is possible from the quarterly household use survey.
  • The 2001 Population Census will include the following IT questions to be asked of all persons in the household:

    • Did the person use a personal computer at home last week?
    • Did the person use the Internet anywhere last week?
      Mark all applicable boxes
    Yes, at home
    Yes, at work
    Yes, elsewhere

      These questions should provide very useful statistics on regional access to IT, cross classified against a large range of variables.
    • Data down to the Statistical Division level, in respect of farm use of IT, is available from the Agricultural Commodity Survey.
    • The 1999-2000 Business IT use survey has a larger sample size than previous surveys and will be able to provide some regional information in respect of businesses.
    • As the new quarterly survey of Internet service providers will be a census, it is expected that some regional data in relation to 'points of presence' will be able to be produced.

    ABS is currently exploring the use of the remoteness index, ARIA (Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia), which categorises Statistical Local Areas (SLAs) to one of five remoteness categories. Remoteness is measured in terms of access along a road network from populated localities to various categories of service centres. Localities that are more remote have less access to service centres and conversely, those which are less remote have greater access to service centres. For more information on ARIA, please email Tim Power on tim.power@abs.gov.au