The Customer Services Program provides leadership and expertise in dissemination, partnering with subject matter areas to effectively communicate official statistics through a wide range of high quality information products, services and communication channels.
Customer Services is in the business of maximising the informed use of our data by clients. The program aims to optimise the mix of dissemination channels and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of statistical communication. The program seeks to use leading edge communication and dissemination technology and aspires to showcase ‘best practice’ communication of official statistics. The Branch provides a range of information solutions for customers – from a telephone information and referral service, through user-pays consultancies, to supporting the complex needs of clients through improved access to, and use of, aggregated and micro data.
The Branch supports the informed use of ABS statistics through the ongoing simplification of licensing. We encourage use of ABS information in other products and services and ask others to attribute ABS material so customers can always find the original source and supporting information.
The Branch partners with ABS subject matter areas to provide many of the services and processes by which statistical releases are prepared. The program helps them produce web and database content efficiently and effectively and provides the tools, training and processes to help achieve this. In addition, the program ensures that the presentation and usability of ABS products are enhanced by the use of relevant standards developed using objective research of customer behaviour and needs.
The main output of the program is the provision of a range of ABS product and service delivery options to customers, which include:
- online dissemination services including the ABS website (www.abs.gov.au), Facebook and Twitter
- output database products, which provide large volumes of detailed statistical macro and micro data (confidentialised), such as Table Builder, ABS.Stat and ABS DataAnalyser
- cost recovered information consultancies, providing data tailored to customers’ needs
- cost recovered subscription services, providing customised data on a regular basis
- Confidentialised Unit Record Files (CURFs)
- telephone/e-mail/fax information and referral services
- improved access and discoverability of historical ABS content via the History Portal
- access to a defined set of key data through an iPhone Application 'ABS Stats'.
The main medium-term developments in the program are to:
- continue to take a leading role in an international collaborative project to develop and utilise a multi-dimensional publishing facility (.Stat) with the ability to view data as dynamic tables, graphs, maps and the functionality to provide machine-to-machine web services - ongoing
- further development of the User Registration facility for ABS online products to include ABS DataAnalyser, CURFS and ABS.Stat - due 2013-14
- continuously expand the ABS’s content and services to allow users to create information tailored to their own needs - ongoing
- develop and implement a new ABS homepage and a new set of enterprise wide content types - due 2013-14
- develop improved search and analytics capabilities to support the ABS online presence - due 2013-14
- implement innovative and flexible tools for safe and effective statistical modelling of microdata - due 2013-14
- enable customer focussed views of ABS information utilising the new dynamic tools, such as by region (spatial), by theme, view indicators - due 2015–16
- update dissemination infrastructure and systems to meet the needs of users in a rapidly changing digital environment, including facilitating re-use of ABS data by external clients and third party portals while ensuring visibility of the ABS brand - due 2015-16
- progressively implement Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 compliance and engage in APS networks on accessibility - ongoing
- take a leading role in an international collaborative project for shared microdata access infrastructure and increase use of ABS microdata by researchers - ongoing
- capture, understand and report evidence about information consumption needs and behaviours of the Australian community - ongoing
- lead the update of licensing ABS data from Creative Commons 2.5 to Creative Commons 3.0 - ongoing.
Merry Branson, Assistant Statistician, Customer Services Branch