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ABS shifts to telling statistical stories

ABS shifts to telling statistical stories

Visual representation ‘makes sense of data’: statistician

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has outlined a move to visual statistics in the hope of communicating with the Australian public more effectively.

The bureau will launch will launch a new campaign at the end of Septemeber, Dr Su-Ming Tam from the ABS told a group of IT professionals at the SAS forum in Sydney.

“We don’t always need fancy things to tell interesting stories. We’re launching a product in the next few months to show the statistical information from the ABS that is current and up to date,” he said.

The new online campaign is made up from videos and other web 2.0 content and is aimed at making sense of statistical data coming from sources like the national census.

“Every five years, a population census is conducted with the latest statistics and trends to create projections. How do you make sense of that data? You need charts and graphs to tell a story behind the numbers. You can actually see the stories behind the numbers when you use these tools,” he said.

Tam used the term ‘pyramidisation’ to describe the visual graphs, which use time series analysis.

“Using time series, you can see the story behind a set of numbers. We’re so excited about the discovery that we’ve coined the term ‘pyramidisation’ to give a name to the process of describing the display.”

He said the graphs could be used by IT professionals to paint a clearer portrait of what the industry will look like in the future.

“For those IT professionals here, we can profile the genders of the people in the industry over time. You can profile the job of CIO over time. You can apply this method to your own organisations data over a number of years,” he said.

The statistician said pyramidisation was the next logical step for the ABS after it realised simply disseminating material over the internet wasn’t reaching the Australian public.

“Disseminating statistics over a website is not sufficient. It doesn’t tell the stories. We are communicating the statistical numbers in a story and are using tools to communicate more effectively with the nation. The ABS is committed to informing the nation by improving communication,” he said.

More information about the ABS project is available at www.abs.gov.au/betaworks.

The SAS forum also included insights from the ANZ bank on how to take finance projects from costing to profitability, and Kevin Hilder from ComSuper spoke about how the agency was able to roll out a BI solution in four weeks.

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Tags ABSAustralia Bureau of Statistics (ABS)data visualisationPyramid ResearchSAS Forum 2010

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