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Emerging trends and best practices in data dissemination

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  1. Emerging trends and best practices in data dissemination Nireen Naidoo Statistics South Africa

  2. Comments on ABS paper • Well written document with some good insights • Statistician’s role extends to ensuring effective communication of messages that will guide users to make informed decisions • Electronic dissemination of publications are free • Easy access to confidentialised unit records • The internet is seen as the main channel for information dissemination • Writing specifically for web dissemination • Linking metadata to data in a more user-friendly way • Email notifications of releases • Self-help guides

  3. Migrating from paper to the web • SA research shows that a third of stakeholders still want paper-based publications • Electronic products on CD are the most popular, followed by information received via email and the website* • Main users of the Stats SA website are academics, students and the private sector • About 10% are international users • All libraries receive electronic copies, but still want printed copies • All government departments, research and educational institutions, parastatals and parliament – free aggregated data in Super Table • 10% sample of Census data • GHS, LFS etc datasets on CD * 4 main target groups surveyed during stakeholder workshops in all 9 provinces

  4. Stats SA’s pricing policy • Market divided into 11 external market segments • Stats SA’s policy is: • To promote the widest possible dissemination of information • To provide access to all stakeholders • To provide information at no charge* • Special data runs are charged at R 300 per hour • Charged in 1996 – generated R 11 million. Census cost R 450 million • Value is in the use of the statistics • Generous with granting permission for 3rd party publications * Some products attract a cost for printing and packaging, but can be downloaded free from the web. This is to minimise abuse and wastage

  5. Rules applied to Stats SA’s website • Ease of navigation • Quick access • Ability to find information • Animations kept to minimum • Corporate branding • Two-way communication tool!! • Feedback is encouraged through various channels • No log on except for time series • Regular and immediate updates • Standardisation of format across website

  6. StatsOnline user feedback for the period November 2003 to January 2006

  7. Features on the website • Interactive tools – PX Web, Digital Census Atlas, Ward Profiles • Publication search- keyword, group, favourites • Events calendar & publications schedule • Frequently asked questions • News • Key indicator scroll • Key findings • Time series – Excel, PC Axis, Ascii • Weekly newsletter • Competitions • Promote communication through invitations to participate in advisory group meetings, workshops etc

  8. Challenges faced with the internet in SA • www still foreign concept to some stakeholders • Teach users how to access and use website during workshops and presentations • Call centre assists users telephonically • Large proportions of SA still do not have access to the internet • Providing information for a wide audience – pitching at the right level is a challenge • Speed of access - bandwidth • Ability to download large amounts of data • Computer literacy • Level of statistical literacy • Understanding of self-help guides • Internet access is costly – users download information and read it later

  9. Initiatives that will impact on web dissemination • Writing course – for print and web publications • Revamp of current releases • Data warehouse • Literacy programmes for users and students • Promotion of the web as first port of call for statistics • Mind-set of seeing web as a communication tool rather than just a dissemination tool

  10. Writing for the web • Not currently done • Load pdf’s on web • Problem with hyperlinked stories is ability to print – still need print version • Weekly column by Statistician-General

  11. Conclusion • Statistical agencies responsibility to public to communicate statistics in everyday language • Web is critical two-way communication tool • Need to consider audience and their ability to access the web • Consider country’s adoption of technology • Linking metadata with data improves understanding of data • Interactive products give users greater flexibility • Active dissemination through emails and newsletters needed to promote web usage • Print publications still have a place in the product mix

  12. Thank you

  13. Disseminated products for the period January – December 2005 Disseminated products to external users on database: Statistical releases mailed 177 353 Right fax 2 748 Emails 20 237 Free of charge products mailed 134 927 **Does not include information sent out by call centre or through marketing activities