ABS CENTRE FOR DATA INTEGRATION
Data integration is the joining of data from different sources to develop new datasets. The ABS undertakes data integration for statistical and research purposes. The potential value to the National Statistical System to combine high value data sources, previously used in isolation, to generate an expanded range of statistics for policy formulation and to pursue new research opportunities is immense. This is particularly the case in areas with a multi portfolio focus where new statistics can support national policy development in areas such as society wellbeing, economic resources, social inclusion and healthy environments. For this reason, data integration is an area of significant growth across the ABS.
The ABS Centre for Data Integration has been established within the ABS Population, Labour and Social Statistics Group to develop and undertake data integration projects and families of projects managed by the ABS in consultation with custodians of datasets and potential users. It supports best practice in the conduct of data integration projects across the ABS through the development of internal infrastructure, resources and tools. Acknowledging that data linkage is also a very sensitive activity that requires the establishment and maintenance of a high level of community trust, the ABS Centre for Data Integration is also responsible for internal policy and governance arrangements to support the safe conduct of ABS statistical data integration activities. This ensures that the ABS meets its requirements as an accredited Integrating Authority, able to undertake high risk integration projects, including ones involving the linkage of sensitive data.
The key objective of the ABS Centre for Data Integration is to advance the quality and range of statistical data integration activities undertaken by the ABS.
The Centre has the following outputs:
- secretariat services to the ABS Data Integration Steering Committee, which is responsible for approving and monitoring all ABS data integration projects (projects deemed high risk are also approved by the Australian Statistician)
- managing and maintaining ABS data integration policy and communications, which include papers, seminars and presentations as well as the provision of support to various communities of practice to ensure compliance with the Commonwealth principles, and governance and institutional arrangements, and to advance ABS best practice
- developing and maintaining tools and infrastructure to support high quality, safe and efficient data integration activities including the design of integration projects and families of projects, cleaning of data for integration, establishing the linkage environment and dissemination of analyses and integrated data
- leveraging access to significant datasets by building relationships with custodians of datasets and, consistent with legislative frameworks, negotiating arrangements to access these datasets for integration and the production of statistics and research.
The main medium-term developments are to:
- build and implement safe and effective arrangements for data integration within the ABS - ongoing
- ensure all ABS data linkage projects are conducted in accordance with the High Level Principles for Data Integration Involving Commonwealth Data for Statistical and Research Purposes - ongoing
- create a data integration portal on the ABS website to inform potential clients and the public of the ABS' work in data integration including establishment of a register of ABS statistical data integration projects involving Commonwealth data - due October 2013
- engage with the custodians of key datasets to identify and enable their use in statistical data integration projects - ongoing
- undertake research and development to enhance ABS data integration arrangements particularly in the areas of confidentialising data, data linkage accuracy and data linkage quality measures - ongoing.
Christine Williams, Assistant Statistician, Education and Data Integration Branch