8101.0 - Innovation and Technology Update (Newsletter), Jun 2004  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/07/2004   
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2.1 ICT Reference Group
2.2 Household Use of IT
2.3 Business Use of IT
2.4 Government Use of IT
2.5 Farm Use of IT
2.6 Internet Activity
2.7 Information Technology and Telecommunications Industries
2.8 ICT Regional Information
2.9 ICT Satellite Account

2.1 Information and communication technology (ICT) reference group

The ABS has established an ICT reference group, involving government, industry, academic and community representatives. The aim of the reference group is to improve the usefulness of ICT statistics in Australia from a variety of sources. The reference group provides a high level forum for understanding, improving and developing ICT statistics, providing members with the opportunity to discuss and consider strategies to address ICT statistical issues. In particular, these relate to:

  • existing or planned activities in the area of ICT statistics;
  • statistical priorities, based on policy, business and community requirements.

The first meeting was held in February 2004. Some of the key issues discussed, included:
  • E-commerce data - the ABS will continue to refine its collection, and examine what other countries are releasing in this area.
  • Statistics on SPAM filtering products by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) - how such statistics could be collected.
  • Regional data relating to broadband subscribers - the ABS agreed to investigate user demand, feasibility and costs in more detail.
  • IT security issues - credit card fraud is a major industry issue and how to obtain reliable statistics was discussed.
  • Emerging issues - the use of ICT in the education and health sectors, the impact of ICT in human and social capital, mobile technology, and digital content products were discussed.
In the near future, the ABS plans to implement a website discussion forum for reference group members. The forum will include meeting and other relevant documents, and will allow members to discuss ideas before subsequent meetings are held.

The next meeting for the ICT reference group is expected to take place in mid September 2004.2.2 Household use of IT

The ABS publication Household Use of Information Technology, Australia (cat. no. 8146.0) was released on Wednesday 10 September 2003, in respect of 2001 and 2002. This data was obtained from the ABS Survey of Education, Training and Information Technology (SETIT) and the ABS General Social Survey (GSS). Key results were shown in our December 2003 Update.

The next publication (for the period 2003) is expected to be released in late September 2004. Data for this publication will be obtained from the following ABS surveys:
  • Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC)
  • Indigenous Social Survey (ISS)
  • Children's Participation in Culture/Leisure Activities (CPCLA)

The publication will also feature information on the use of information technology by these specific populations.

Future publications will use data from the new ABS Multi-Purpose Household Survey (MPHS) which covers a proportion of the households used in the ABS Monthly Population Survey. The MPHS has a sample size of approximately 13,500 households. Results for 2004-05 are expected in early 2006.2.3 Business use of IT

The Business Use of Information Technology survey (BUIT) has been conducted annually since 1999-2000. It collects data on the use of computers and the Internet by Australian businesses, including web sites and home pages. In addition, it explores the use and functionality of Internet and Web technologies by these businesses.

Results for the period 2002-03 were shown in the ABS publication Business Use of Information Technology, Australia (cat. no. 8129.0), which was released on Wednesday 17 March 2004. The estimates in this publication are based on a new statistical infrastructure arising from the new tax system (TNTS). One of the infrastructure changes was the introduction of a new ABS business register and the main effect of this for the BUIT survey was a changed population from which the survey frame was drawn. Changes resulting from TNTS are evident in the estimates of business counts published in this issue when compared to those published in 2001-02. Comparisons between these estimates and previously published data should be made with caution. For more information about changes, please refer to the explanatory notes in the latest publication.

Some extracts from the publication's Main Findings include:
  • At the end of June 2003, estimates of the proportions of businesses using a computer, the Internet or having a web presence remained relatively unchanged, compared with the same period in 2002.
  • Only 11% of businesses using a computer reported having no IT security measures in place at June 2003. The most common form of IT security was anti-virus software and/or virus scanner (82%).
  • Between June 2002 and June 2003 there was an increase in the proportion of businesses accessing the Internet by digital subscriber line (DSL), from 7% to 18%, and a decrease in dial-up via modem, from 86% to 76%.

More details (for the 2002/03 release) are shown in the Main Features (cat. no. 8129.0).

Planning for the 2003-04 survey continues. This planning is considering issues such as data quality, processing capacity, user requirements and emerging issues. Outcomes from the ICT reference group will play an important part in determining the content. The survey will continue to collect employment and gross income to use for output classifications. Results from the 2003-04 survey are expected to be released in early 2005.2.4 Government use of IT

The Government Technology Survey (GTS) provides key measures on employment and ICT expenditures by government organisations in Australia. The scope for the 2002-03 survey is federal, state/territory and local government (including indigenous councils) organisations whose predominant activity falls within the institutional sector of general government. Public financial and non-financial corporations are out of scope for the survey. A sample of public sector education organisations has also been included for ICT Satellite Account purposes. This includes a sample of schools and universities, and a census of vocational education institutions.

The 2002-03 survey has been remodelled since the 1999-2000 survey to have a greater focus on financial data. This data will be used to populate the 2002-03 ICT Satellite Account, which is due to be released in early 2005.

Results from the 2002-03 survey were published on 2 July 2004.

2.5 Farm use of IT

The ABS publication
Use of Information Technology on Farms, Australia (cat. no. 8150.0) was released on 11 March 2004. The data was obtained from questions included in the 2001-02 Agricultural Survey, with a reference date of 30 June 2002. Farms with an estimated value of agricultural operations (EVAO) of $5,000 or more, were in scope.

The publication includes information relating to the use of computers and the Internet by farms, and features industry and regional breakdowns.

Some of the Main Findings from the latest publication are:
  • During the year to 30 June 2002, 53% (or 71,461) of in scope farms used a computer, and 43% (or 58,595) used the Internet as part of their business operations.
  • During the two years to 30 June 2002, there was a 14 percentage point increase in the proportion of farms with access to the Internet, bringing the proportion to 48%.
  • Western Australia recorded the highest proportion of farms using a computer (63%) and the highest proportion using the Internet (54%). Victoria reported the lowest proportions in both categories (49% and 39% respectively). Other state figures for computer and Internet use, respectively are:
- New South Wales (52% and 43%);
- Queensland (51% and 41%);
- South Australia (60% and 51%);
- Tasmania (50% and 40%);
- Northern Territory (53% and 45%); and
- Australian Capital Territory (53% and 48%).
  • There was a strong relationship between farm size, as measured by the estimated value of agricultural operations, and the use of a computer and the Internet. As farm size increased, so did the proportion of farms using a computer and the Internet.

More details (for the June 2002 data) are shown in the Main Features (cat. no. 8150.0).

The 2002-03 publication is expected to be released in early September 2004.2.6 Internet activity

The ABS publication Internet Activity, Australia (cat. no. 8153.0) was released on 20 February 2004 for the period September 2003. Data in this publication are sourced from the Internet Activity Survey, which is a Census of all Internet Service Providers (ISPs) operating in Australia, and the Internet access services they provide.

For the first time, data regarding download speed of access connection have been collected which will enable users to measure broadband uptake. In addition, new questions on SPAM filtering products and their provision by ISPs were introduced.

Findings from the latest publication include:

  • At the end of September 2003, total Internet subscribers in Australia numbered over 5.2 million, this is an increase of 135,000 (3%) from the end of March 2003.

  • Dial-up subscriber numbers in Australia fell by 85,000 (2%) in the six months to September 2003. Dial-up subscribers as a proportion of total subscribers fell below 90% for the first time.

  • The number of non dial-up subscribers grew from 470,000 at the end of the March 2003 to 690,000 at the end of September 2003, an increase of 220,000 (47%) reflecting the continuing move toward these technologies.

  • At the end of September 2003, there were 657,000 broadband subscribers, when measured using the ABS definition of broadband which is an 'always on' Internet connection with an access speed equal to or greater than 256kbps.

  • Data downloaded by subscribers increased by 53% from 3,046 million MBs to 4,665 million MBs. Non dial-up subscribers accounted for over 67% of the total data downloaded reflecting the much faster download speeds available.

  • At the end of September 2003, 384 (or 58%) ISPs offered their subscribers a SPAM filtering product as either a free or charged service. Almost 2.5 million subscribers had adopted a SPAM filtering product at the end of September 2003.

More details are shown in the Main Features (cat. no. 8153.0)2.7 Information technology and telecommunications industries

The Information and Communications Technology Industry Survey (ICTIS) is a biennial survey that collects data on the production and distribution of information technology and telecommunication (IT&T) goods and services by businesses in Australia. The main data requirements of the ICTIS are to provide measures of:
  • domestic production of ICT goods and services
  • the level and profile of employment in ICT industries
  • investment trends in ICT industries
  • the performance and structure of industry groups comprising the ICT sector

The survey scope includes all employing businesses across industry classes where ICT activity is likely. Non-employing businesses are excluded.

The 2002-03 survey will incorporate tax reform changes that were recently introduced into ABS business surveys. These changes include the new units model, employment benchmarks and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Code (ANZSIC). Results are expected to be released in August 2004.

2.8 ICT regional information

Regional information relating to ICT issues is available through the following collections:
  • The 2001 Census of Population and Housing asked two questions on computer and Internet usage by households. Census data is available starting at the Collection District (CD) level. This level is the smallest geographic area defined in the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC).

  • Data down to the statistical division level, in respect of farm use of IT, are collected via the ABS 2001-02 Agricultural Survey. The following graphic shows the proportion of farms using the Internet at the Statistical Division (SD) level in Australia at June 2002.

Map - Proportion of farms using the internet
2.9 ICT Satellite Account

The National Accounts Research Section of the ABS is compiling an ICT Satellite Account in respect of 2002-03. An ICT Satellite Account enables data on all of the ICT goods and services produced and consumed by all sectors/industries to be brought together. It will provide a more detailed understanding of the sources of supply of ICT products and their use. This compilation will be within the context of the balanced supply and use framework of the national accounts, and will allow for a more defined measurement and analysis of the impacts of these activities on the economy.

Data will be collected from the following vehicles:

(a) Business Sector - data will be sourced from the ABS Economy Wide Survey collections which include the Economic Activity Survey (EAS) and its related surveys including Manufacturing, Mining and Utilities Industries Surveys, Service Industries Surveys and the ICT Industry Survey; the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority collections for the bank and insurance industries; and the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics collections for broad acre and dairy agriculture industries.

(b) Government Sector - data will be sourced from the Government Technology Survey (GTS) which collects a similar range of ICT employment and ICT expenditure data as the EAS collections.

(c) Household Sector - data will be sourced from the ABS 1998-99 Retail Industry Survey in conjunction with activity data from the annual ICT use modules included in household surveys. Information from the ABS 2003-04 Household Expenditure Survey will also be used for verification purposes, subject to timeliness of early estimates of expenditure on ICT commodities.

Results from the 2002-03 ICT Satellite Account are expected to be published in March 2005. In the near future, the ABS will be sending a set of draft tables for comment to key users which will provide input to the publication's structure.

An exploratory study for an ICT Satellite Account was conducted for the period 1998-99. A summary of findings was included in our June 2003 Update.

For more information, please contact Tim Power at