Thursday, July 25, 2013

Insights into regional competitiveness

Australian Bureau of Statistics is a great source of economic statistics but anyone looking for small area data have to work very hard to find and collate anything of relevance from vast collections of information available from the Bureau. An alternative source of economic statistics for small areas are private companies however, the cost of that information is rather prohibitive. But things are changing. Firstly, earlier this year ABS started to publish experimental time series compilation of statistics for Local Government Areas (LGA) and just last month the Regional Australia Institute launched a very comprehensive, free, online tool with regional economic assessments called [In]Sight.

[In]Sight is an online index and interactive map tracking the competitiveness of Australia’s 560 LGA and 55 Regional Development Australia (RDA) regions. The measure is based on international competitiveness indices developed by the World Economic Forum and European Union, but specifically tailored to reflect the issues that matter to regional Australia. [In]Sight consists of 59 measurable indicators of competitiveness within ten themes:

  • Institutions: Administration support for regional development
  • Infrastructure and Essential Services: Access to infrastructure, transport and services
  • Economic Fundamentals: The region’s general economic climate
  • Human Capital: The capabilities and skills of a region’s workforce
  • Labour Market Efficiency: Use of the potential regional workforce by the economy
  • Technological Readiness: Access and utilisation of new technologies
  • Business Sophistication: Capacity of business to respond to competitive pressures
  • Innovation: Availability of new approaches and ideas
  • Market size: The size of the local economy
  • Natural Resources: Availability and use of natural resources

Within each theme, a unique set of measurable indicators capture the economic drivers that determine long term competitiveness of the region.

The amount of available information is a bit overwhelming at first and the format the information is presented in (ie. index values and values representing comparative ranking “out of 560”) makes it a bit hard to interpret when profiling individual regions but once you grasp the concepts, and have a clear point of reference to compare to, [In]Sight offers a very comprehensive, single source perspective on the region of interest. Uses of that information will be many and across many different disciplines - from identifying disadvantaged regions for federal and state support, to selecting favourable locations to settle, or to locate a business, or prioritise for marketing opportunities.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

More Census 2011 data online

The adoption of Creative Commons data licensing by federal as well State governments put in public domain vast amounts of free and very useful data.  There was a time that Australian Census statistics in an interactive format (ie. as maps and tables) was available only to a selected few with very deep pockets. But these days the Australian Bureau of Statistics disseminates the data at a minimal cost to users. This led to proliferation of applications and tools incorporating Census data – some presenting just basic information for general public but others also allowing for some analysis of the data.

One of more interesting and novel ways of presenting Census 2011 data was developed by - a company which focuses on regional economic analysis for councils and local governments. Creation of a profile with Census statistics relevant for a particular region can be quite costly for individual councils but once these are published, the public have free access to quite extensive set of information, and in a very user friendly format.

Users can interact with the information online but also download selected items as tables, images or even full reports for offline perusal. Information is available in two flavours: as profiles or as atlases (the key difference is how the information is presented because content is almost identical Census 2011 data). Only a partial coverage of Australia is available from website because those applications are funded by individual councils.

More on Census 2011 data and apps