8101.0 - Innovation and Technology Update, Jun 2013  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/07/2013   
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As outlined in the last newsletter, the ABS released a consultation paper inviting Australians to comment on the proposals around content and procedures for the 17th national Census due to be conducted in 2016. Interested parties were also invited to make a submission in accordance with the submission guidelines. The submission process closed on 31 May 2013 with 15 Information Communication Technology related submissions being received. Following assessment of the submissions, final recommendations on the nature and content of the 2016 Census will be discussed with the Australian Statistics Advisory Council (ASAC) in late 2013. The ABS will then make a submission to the Government, outlining recommendations on the nature and the content of the 2016 Census. The content of the 2016 Census is expected to be known by the end of 2014, and people who have provided submissions will be advised of the outcome at this time.

Further information is available in the Census of Population and Housing: Consultation on Content and Procedures, 2016 (cat. no. 2007.0).


The Essential Statistical Assets (ESA) for Australia initiative is led by the ABS as a key National Statistical Service (NSS) Strategy. The aim of the initiative is to allow for effective prioritisation of investment, focus, and effort within the NSS by identifying those essential statistical assets which are critical to decision making, in a complex and sometimes fragmented information environment across Australia. Phase one of the initiative, developing the 2013 list of ESA for Australia, represents the first holistic assessment of the most essential statistics to meet current user requirements undertaken in Australia. It has been developed through consultation with the community as well as users and producers of official statistics in Australia.

The 2013 list of ESA for Australia has been organised around three pillars: Economy, Environment and Society. Within each pillar, a number of dimensions have been identified that focus on a particular topic. The final list consists of 74 statistics, highlighting a total of 178 distinct datasets. These datasets are complied from different sources, across all levels of government.

Many Innovation and Technology statistics such as Business demography; IT use and innovation by business; Expenditure on research and development; and Personal internet access and usage have been identified as essential, and are listed within the Economy and Society pillars. These statistics can be found within the following datasets produced by the I&T branch: Business Characteristics Survey; Survey of Research and Experimental Development - Businesses; Survey of Research and Experimental Development - Government and Private Non-Profit; Survey of Research and Experimental Development - Higher Education; Internet Activity Survey; and the Household Use of Information Technology.

An example of the role of the ESA for Australia plays in supporting policy development and the identification of priority statistics to support the evolving digital economy was acknowledged in the Advancing Australia as a Digital Economy update to the National Digital Economy Strategy, released by the Department of Broadband in June 2013.

A copy of the Essential Statistical Assets for Australia, 2013, (cat. no. 1395.0) can be found on the ABS website www.abs.gov.au.


The ABS Forward Work Program (FWP) for 2013-14 to 2016-17 was released in June 2013. The FWP provides background information about statistical and non-statistical programs across the ABS, their objectives and the outputs they produce. It includes details of past and current resource usage, and details developments in the work program for each of the statistical and non-statistical programs over the next four years. In regards to Innovation and Technology (I&T) statistics, the program outlines the main objectives of the I&T Branch, its clients and the range of outputs it is responsible for producing.
The statistical outputs produced by the I&T Branch show:
    • The use of ICT by Australian businesses and households.
    • Internet activity conducted through the Australian Internet Service Provider industry.
    • Innovation activities undertaken within the Australian economy.
    • Research and experimental development undertaken by businesses, government, universities and private non-profit organisations.
    • Selected business characteristics data.

    As part of the outputs above, the I&T Branch is responsible for the creation and release of the Business Longitudinal Database Confidentialised Unit Record File (BLD CURF) of Australian business characteristics.
In addition to the outputs listed above the branch is also responsible for collecting and publishing of Venture Capital and Later Stage Private Equity (cat no. 5678.0) statistics on an annual basis. This work is user funded.
More information is available in the Forward Work Program, 2013-14 to 2016-17 (cat. no. 1006.0)

The first meeting of the newly formed Innovation and Technology Statistics Stakeholder Group took place on the 10 April 2013. The new group was formed from the previously existing Innovation Reference Group and the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Reference Group. The newly formed group provides a high level forum for understanding, improving and developing Innovation and Technology statistics, by providing members with the opportunity to discuss and consider strategies to address statistical issues. Members from the following key stakeholder organisations participated in the April meeting: Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resources Economies and Sciences (ABARES); Australian Computer Society (ACS); Australian Mobile Telecommunications Authority (AMTA); Australian Research Council (ARC); Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO); Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO); Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing (DAFF); Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DCBDE); Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR); Department of Innovation, Industry, Climate Change Science and Research and Tertiary Education (DIICCSRTE); Group of 8; and Productivity Commission.

Topics discussed included:
  • Development of a ten year business plan for the ABS Innovation and Technology Statistics program.
  • The 2016 Census of Population and Housing Content and Procedures submission process and information about possible directions for ICT related content.
  • An outline of the findings from the pilot Public Sector Innovation Survey, part of the Australian Public Sector Innovation Indicators (APSII) Project.

The Business Longitudinal Database CURF (cat. no. 8168.0.55.001) was released on June 18, 2013. This is the third iteration of the BLD CURF and contains data from 3075 Australian businesses for five reference periods from 2006-07 to 2010-11. The BLD CURF is populated using three data sources: directly collected characteristics data from the annual Business Characteristics Survey (BCS); data from Business Activity Statements sourced from the Australian Taxation Office (provided to the ABS as administrative by-product); and basic merchandise trade data originally sourced from the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service and used by the ABS to compile merchandise trade statistics. Provided with this release is a test file. This file contains 500 records with test data, mimicking the data items contained in the actual BLD CURF. This file has been made available for users to test their code, before submitting this via the RADL to the actual CURF. It does not contain real data and cannot be used for analysis.

The BLD CURF is designed to enable longitudinal micro level analysis. The sample is stratified by industry division and employment size, although it is not designed to produce cross-sectional or population estimates. The file includes data directly collected by the BCS covering topics such as innovation practices and barriers; Information Technology use; market share and competition, barriers to business performance; employment arrangements; and skills utilised within the business.

Information on how to apply for access to the BLD CURF is provided on the ABS website, on the Microdata Entry Page.


The field phase of the 2012-13 Household Use of Information Technology, Australia, (cat. no. 8146.0) conducted as part of the Multi Purpose Household Survey (MPHS) has just been completed The results will be available in early 2014 and will cover topics such as:
      • home access to the internet
      • frequency of home internet use and type of activities
      • other sites where participants accessed the internet
      • online purchases of goods and services, type of goods, or reason for not ordering.
The 2014-15 Household Use of Information Technology Survey is currently in the design phase, with questions being tested in the field in regards to both their suitability and reliability for the next iteration of the survey.


The ninth issue of Perspectives on Sport (cat. no. 4156.0.55.001) was released on June 7, 2013. It contains a series of short articles on topics of interest relating to sport and physical recreation using data sourced from a range of ABS surveys. This edition highlights some of the challenges facing Australian families today due to increases in children's participation in screen based activities. Further information can be found in Square Eyes and Couch Potatoes: Children's participation in physical activity and screen-based activities (cat. no. 4156.0.55.001).

The Census Program has recently released Run That Town - an interactive game that uses 2011 Census data. Run That Town is a strategy game with a twist - it lets you take control of any neighbourhood in Australia. You can use real 2011 Census data to discover who’s who in your area, and make decisions that will sway popular opinion in your favour. What kind of leader will you be? Will you be showered with praise, or chased out of town by an angry mob?
  • Play with any Australian postal area
  • Every game is created using real Census data, making it unique to your neighbourhood
  • Choose from hundreds of projects for your town - from the practical to the preposterous
  • Consult the locals to make popular decisions
  • Read about your exploits in the infamous local paper

The development of the game supports the primary objective of the ABS, to continue to increase the level of understanding and use of official statistics within Australian society. The game does this in an interactive, fun and light-hearted way.

Further information can be found at:

Website: http://runthattown.abs.gov.au/
Our Census YouTube game trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rif1698fH2E
Download from the App store: https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/run-that-town/id598509287?mt=8