“The ICT sector is critical to Australia’s national and global economic performance and it is important to understand the contribution the sector makes to the overall economy. However, measuring ICT is broader than measuring the ICT sector alone.”

The Australian Government appears to be upping the ante on the US NIST approach we looked at in the December 2014 article ICT Metrics: NIST’s New Measurement Science Plan. The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) 3 Year Plan aims to build new measurement science capability in a number of areas, noting that “The current state – of – the – art of systems engineering is inadequate to provide the scientific foundations needed to develop the systems of the future.”

Now we have the Australian ICT Statistics Review, which is a joint Department of Communications and Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) initiative with the ambitious goal of measuring the total contribution of ICT to the Australian economy. The 16/01/2015 Discussion Paper  on the Review notes:

“To accurately measure the total contribution of ICT to the economy consideration needs to be given to the users and uses of ICT goods and services, as well as those who produce ICT statistics. ICT is an important enabler of innovation and contributes to productivity growth. It influences all aspects of the innovation process: aiding research and development; influencing the flow of knowledge; being integral to the running of organisations both large and small; being a vehicle for networking and collaboration; and also in many cases being the actual innovation product itself.”

The Terms of Reference for the Review include:

  • consider the definitions used for key terms such as ICT, ICT statistics, the digital economy, digital technologies, digital readiness, diffusion and intensity
  • identify priority information requirements, covering all sectors of the economy, including public, private and non-profit sectors, and measuring the economic, people and societal dimensions, with particular consideration given to:
    • the availability and use of digital products and services
    • productivity in the digital economy
    • digital economy policy, including internet-based interactions for government services
    • improving the quality of ICT data available to decision-makers
  • identify gaps, overlaps, limitations and appropriateness of existing ABS ICT statistics and other authoritative data sources in meeting priority information requirements for measuring the economic, people and societal dimensions, including a quality assessment against the ABS data quality framework
  • examine options for use of administrative by-product and ‘big data’ as efficient alternatives to direct survey data collection
  • develop a proposal to effectively measure the contribution that ICT makes to the Australian economy and productivity across all industry sectors. The framework will support international comparisons and be consistent with national accounting principles
  • prepare a report on key findings, setting out short, medium and longer term recommendations focused on enhancing the information currently available for policy-makers and specifying potential implementation impacts.
  • discussion of potential uses of key ICT datasets residing in agency/organisational databases, and potential ‘big data’ sources.

For further details, check out the Discussion Paper, which  provides more information about the Review Terms of Reference, scope, consultation and submission process, and timing.