Rapid changes in the economy pose measurement challenges for official statistics. Our methods are having to evolve to ensure our official statistics are capturing and accurately reflecting the contributions of the new economy.
Data collection challenges
Our data collection methods are designed to minimise the burden on data providers. Where we can, alternative sources such as administrative data and new, quality information sources are being used to ensure that we only survey the community and business where necessary to achieve quality statistical results. It has also become increasingly difficult to sustain high response rates to ABS household and business surveys and so the cost of obtaining this data is rising.
Growing demand for data integration
The ABS is one of a number of National Statistical Organisations making more extensive use of integrated datasets. These datasets are generally more complex than survey datasets and require special expertise for proper analysis. The ABS is further increasing its data capability in order to grow our capacity to provide professional data services to the public sector, however the overall supply of expert data analysts may constrain effective use of this valuable data.
Opportunities from big data
Big data provides opportunities for the ABS to improve its statistical offerings by generating more granular data and richer data, more frequently. However, using these new data sources in the production of official statistics requires new methods and skills. The ABS is working actively to stay ahead of the challenges in storage, processing and dissemination of big data and in maintaining the confidentiality of the information we publish.
Speed of technological change
The rapid speed of technological change is making it costly to keep up with the latest innovations and heightening the risk of cyber security attacks. Rising costs are undermining the promise of efficiencies from Information and Communications Technology (ICT) investments. The constant need to upgrade to the latest versions of applications and platforms places increased demands on our people to bridge gaps between new and old technology to prevent security weaknesses.
Greater privacy awareness in the community
The ABS is trusted by the community to keep their data safe and secure. There is heightened interest in privacy in the community and media due to recent privacy breaches by private and public sector organisations. At the same time there is increased stakeholder demand for more data to be available for research purposes. The ABS must balance the growing demand for data with the need to protect privacy. One way we are doing this is through the adaption of international best practice, such as the ‘Five Safes’ approach, to manage improved access to data while maintaining individual’s privacy alongside use of our advanced statistical techniques.