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Snippets of Data at a Glance: Using RSS to deliver statistics

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  1. Snippets of Data at a Glance: Using RSS to deliver statistics San Cannon Federal Reserve Board UNECE Work Session on Statistical Dissemination and Communication 13 May 2008

  2. Data are everywhere! • This information explosion has made it more challenging for data providers to disseminate their information in a “useful” way. • This is partly because what is “useful” has changed drastically – printed compendia of data observations are no longer sufficient. • Even electronic distribution channels are undergoing changes. UNECE DISSCOMM 13 May 2008

  3. Changing world: pull vs. push • The proliferation of gadgets that deliver information means typical delivery methods are no longer sufficient. • Users want their content delivered to them rather than having to go get it. • Question: how to provide information to people when they want it? UNECE DISSCOMM 13 May 2008

  4. Data aren’t just for people • It’s no longer the case that a human is sitting at a computer looking at your website to get information. • Many “customers” of our data products are automated processes that “scrape” the pages to repackage the information. • Such repurposing means that data providers have no control over the information, how it is used, or how it is presented. UNECE DISSCOMM 13 May 2008

  5. How can RSS help? • Really Simple Syndication (or Rich Site Summary) is XML that allows users to subscribe and then view the information when and where they like. • This mechanism provides an on-demand delivery method: information is available immediately but users can access it at their convenience. • It doesn’t do much to address the content control issue. UNECE DISSCOMM 13 May 2008

  6. Enter RSS-CB • A group of central banks began collaborating in 2005 on common XML representations of central bank information. (Then mostly SDMX.) • We have expanded the scope and have created a technical specification for publishing central bank information in XML via RSS feeds. UNECE DISSCOMM 13 May 2008

  7. Why bother writing a spec? • We wanted to address the two sets of consumers in a way that basic RSS feeds don’t. • We have created specific metadata fields to clearly define the purpose of the information. • By providing structured information, we reduce the cost of using the information correctly thereby making it more likely that third party sites will “get it right.” UNECE DISSCOMM 13 May 2008

  8. Relevance to data? • RSS provides timely access to information. • For many central bank statistics, getting the information right away is important. • Why not publish statistics as RSS feeds? This would provide immediate access to important information without downloading data files, opening PDFs, or using a browser. UNECE DISSCOMM 13 May 2008

  9. Voila! RSS-CB for data • Allows simple access to a single observation (e.g. FX rates, CP rates, etc.) • Provides timely delivery without the burden of screen scraping or application development. • Novelty: Feeds violate the general principle that “more data are better” UNECE DISSCOMM 13 May 2008

  10. Gory details: an RSS-CB datum <item rdf:about="http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/CP#1"> <title>US: CP 2.01 2008-05-05 FRB Overnight AA nonfinancial commercial paper rate</title> <link>http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/CP#1</link> <description>OvernightAA nonfinancial commercial paperrate</description> <dc:date>2008-05-05T12:00:00-05:00</dc:date> <dc:language>en</dc:language> <cb:statistics> <cb:country>US</cb:country> <cb:institutionAbbrev>FRB</cb:institutionAbbrev> <cb:interestRate> <cb:value decimals="2">2.01</cb:value> <cb:rateType>Overnight AA nonfinancial commercial paperrate</cb:rateType> <cb:rateName>CP</cb:rateName> <cb:observationPeriod frequency="business">2008-05- 05T12:00:00-05:00</cb:observationPeriod> </cb:interestRate> </cb:statistics> </item> UNECE DISSCOMM 13 May 2008

  11. Actual data feeds in RSS-CB • Bank of Canada • European Central Bank • Bank of Finland • Bank Negara Malaysia • Banco de Mexico • Federal Reserve Board • New York Fed UNECE DISSCOMM 13 May 2008

  12. But we’re not done yet: • Work continues on the specification: http://www.cbwiki.net • The Board is increasing its RSS offerings this fall. • Questions? Comments? Thanks for listening. San Cannon scannon@frb.gov (202) 452-3710 UNECE DISSCOMM 13 May 2008