In my last post I looked at the release by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) of TableViewer, which demonstrates the increasing use of Web 2.0 by the ABS to provide greater access to census data. Now I’ll take a look at how Australian company .id (informed decisions) has taken this a step further to produce a range of user-friendly profiles which rely heavily on Web 2.0 strategies.
.id develops and hosts LGA-level (and in some cases, regional) statistical profiles using a range of sources. Over 180 council areas across Australia use one or more of .id’s products. Whilst local government makes up most of .id’s customers, local communities, businesses and non-government organisations are also key beneficiaries as most councils with .id products put public links to them on their websites, thus providing a free source of formatted, interactive tables, graphs and thematic maps.
.id’s range includes:
profile.id – a detailed social and demographic profile of a local government area. This is probably the most widely used .id product and has set the pattern for its other profiles. The basic format which allows users to select the relevant area (which could be a the whole LGA or a specific suburb) and then choose from a set of simple questions such as “how many people live here?”, “who are we?”, “what do we do?” and “how do we live” makes the data very accessible. It has also become the basis for the development of all the other .id products.
atlas.id – a social atlas of thematic maps for an LGA. This is a “supercharged” response to the ABS’s Mapstats, providing much greater interactivity and control.
forecast.id – a detailed demographic forecast for an LGA, broken down by customised local areas.
housing.id – provides analysis of an LGA’s housing patterns and trends.
economy.id – an economic profile of an LGA. This is .id’s latest and possibly most complex and ambitious project (click here for my review).
The .id website provides links to all the company’s clients and their .id profiles, most of which can also be accessed from the relevant council or regional website (though some links are easier to find on council websites than others).
Verdict: Whilst there is not enough space here to review in detail all the .id products, they are well worth checking out. The great advantages of these profiles is their accessibility, the extent to which tables and comparisons can be customised and the ease with which the resulting graphs and thematic maps can be downloaded.
For councils there is a significant upfront cost (upwards from around $25,000, depending on the product) plus an annual fee. However many councils consider that this is more than outweighed by increased efficiencies within councils, especially the savings in staff costs involved in preparing this data. In addition councils benefit from the improved data available to support planning and strategy development.
As previously indicated these benefits are shared by the wider community when these profiles are put online by the councils that have commissioned them, especially as the .id profiles are free to end users. The tables, maps and graphs produced from these tools can be pasted directly into community organisation reports and submissions, whilst businesses can learn an enormous amount about their local markets and the skills, size and demographics of the local workforce.
If you a scratching your head over whether to use ABS or .id profiles and other tools for your latest research project, here’s a suggestion. The ABS products have more of a learning curve and are probably most useful for accessing metropolitan wide, state or national census data – or to construct tables which require a high degree of customisation (if you have the money to purchase the TableViewer subscription).
On the other hand the .id profiles are much easier to use and are specifically customised to provide LGA-level or regional census data as well as housing and economic information – provided your LGA or region is covered. If it isn’t then you will have to use the ABS tools.
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