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April 2003 Introduction
Asta Manninen, Lea Parjo, Heli Jeskanen-Sundström
Internat. Statist. Rev. 71(1): (April 2003).


\emph{The papers in this issue}} focus on \emph{Statistics Describing the Information Society}. Most of the papers originate from presentations given during the IAOS Satellite Meeting on Statistics for the Information Society, Tokyo 2001 in connection with the ISI Session in Seoul 2001. However, the authors have further developed and up-dated their papers. The aim of this special issue of the ISR is very much the same as the goal of the above mentioned IAOS Satellite Meeting, i.e. to feature research and studies, development of statistics, statistical methodologies and frameworks, and other related matters concerning the evolving \emph{Information Society}. Key questions are: (1) How does the Information Society challenge statistics? (2) How to describe the Information Society? How far or deep have we entered into the Information Society? (3) And looking ahead, what kind of indicators do we need to monitor and develop the Information Society from economic, societal, and environmental points of view? The papers presented here, seven altogether, aim at summarising the main attempts and efforts made to establish statistical frameworks and programs as well as various statistics themselves describing the Information Society. Attention has been paid to the geographical coverage of the submissions. The development and the typical features of the Information Society are explained. Future development plans for statistics on the Information Society and related issues are presented. Definitions and analysis of key-indicators for monitoring the Information Society are introduced. Some cross-national comparisons are provided. One important question dealt with is how to develop official statistics to properly describe the evolving Information Society. \emph{Heli Jeskanen-Sundstr\"om (Finland)} gives an overview of the ongoing work in the field of statistics relating to the development of information and communication technology (ICT) and its impact. She introduces three slightly different approaches with different emphasis on describing the emergence and diffusion of ICT and the respective economic and social change. You may call them the indicators approach, the new economy approach and the intellectual capital approach. Andrew Wyckoff (OECD) presents the OECD efforts undertaken to address the measurement and policy challenges posed by the Information Society. The OECD has acted as a forum for discussion of policies regarding the information society for over 20-years, producing guidelines and recommendations in areas such as privacy of personal information, computer security, cryptography, regulatory reform of communications, and most recently on-line consumer protection and the taxation of e-commerce. Jozef Olenski (Poland) deals with the fundamental topic of citizens' right to information and the duties of a democratic state in modern IT environment. Fred Gault and Greg Peterson (Canada) contribute with Canadian experiences. Statistics Canada has measured the use of information and communication technologies for almost 15 years in industry and more recently in households and it has developed a body of knowledge on the effects of the use of these technologies. Gault and Peterson provide examples of ICT use in private and public institutions, in households, and by individuals. They also illustrate the consequent development of electronic commerce and of other uses of the Internet and concludes with some implications for the development of official statistics in light of policy requirements. Tim Power (Australia) shares the experiences of development in official statistics on the adoption of ICT in Australia. He outlines the ICT statistical developments that the Australian Bureau of Statistics has undertaken over recent years. The developments have been on both the supply side (ICT industry) and the demand side (use of IT by sector). One example of recent developments in household collections has been the inclusion of IT use questions in the 2001 Census of Population and Housing. An Internet activity survey is run every six months allowing also for detailed regional information. A major new development is the compilation of an ICT satellite account. Hiroyuki Kitada (Japan) gives an overview of the present situation of Japanese official statistics related to ICT. In addition, he highlights some problems related to the necessity and measurability of the appropriate preparation of ICT indicators and e-commerce-related statistics. In Japan, more than 40 kinds of official statistical surveys including questions related to ICT have been conducted in the past five years. To grasp the new development in IT, a new compendium on ICT entitled ``IT Indicators in Japan'' was compiled in 2001. Most importantly, the 11th revision of the Standard Industrial Classification for Japan (JSIC) was published by the Statistical Standards Department, Statistics Bureau, Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications (MPHPT) in March 2002 to cope with the change of economy and society including the development of ICT. ``The Internet has resulted in an unprecedented proliferation of Information, Communication, Knowledge and Entertainment (ICKE)'' states Ramasamy Ramachandran (Malaysia). He introduces a framework which adopts a socio-technological approach, premised on contemporary information and knowledge development as an integral of the people and technology dimensions. To illustrate the workability of the proposed model, Ramachandran identifies some parameters and variables in the current statistical system, and highlights some new data generated via the Internet Subscriber Study and ICT Exposition Visitor Study. All illustrations refer to Malaysian data. {\bf Milestones in developing statistics for the Information Society} appear as follows. Technological changes and the increased utilisation of electronics and telecommunications contribute to the availability of information in all industrialised countries. The aim of the National Information Infrastructure (NII) programme published in the United States in the early 1990s was to implement ``a seamless web of communications networks, computers, databases and consumer electronics that would put vast amounts of information at users' fingertips''. This development process was also known as the Information Superhighway. Corresponding programmes were also implemented in Canada under the name Information Highway and in the European Union as part of its Information Society programme. As European responses to the challenge from North America, the European Commission published the White Book `European Commission: Growth, competitiveness, and employment---the challenges and ways forward into the 21st century' in December 1993, and the Bangemann report `Europe and the global information society' in 1994. Later on, the Europe 2002 and 2005 benchmarking indicators put new challenges to European statistical institutes. It was soon realised that official statistics were needed for the follow-up of action plans and strategies. National statistical agencies started to work on their national data needs for monitoring the Information Society. In addition, regional co-operation between the Nordic statistical institutes, for example, for developing the methodology and guidelines on how to measure the Information Society started fairly early. As a result, the Nordic Countries published the first comparable results on the ICT sector in 1998. In 1997, the OECD decided to restart its work on the development of information society statistics and convened the first meeting of the Statistical Panel (the ICCP Statistical Panel on GII-GIS), which was the following year transformed into a permanent working party (WPIIS, Working Party on Indicators for the Information Society). From the very beginning, the WPIIS considered the lack of basic, commonly accepted statistical definitions on the scope of these new statistics as the most urgent development need. Therefore, the WPIIS centred its work on classifications. As a result, the activity-based OECD definition of the ICT sector was accepted in 1998. After that, the definitions for electronic commerce were agreed on a harmonised basis and the model questionnaires for surveying ICT in enterprises and households/individuals were approved. The very first harmonised publication on the ICT sector, `Measuring the ICT sector', was published in 2000. Since 1998, issues related to the Information Society statistics have become permanent items on the Voorburg Group's (United Nations City Group on the development of services statistics) agenda. Special attention has been paid to the development of a model questionnaire regarding the ICT use of businesses. {\bf Demands for ICT equipment and services is driven by the growth of metropolitan markets.} According to recent OECD research (Information and Communications Technologies in Urban Areas, July 2002), ICT has clearly been developed, tested, produced, and applied predominantly in urban areas, well ahead of other geographical areas (rural areas and remote regions). ICT clusters or districts have been established primarily in cities and urban areas. Urban homes are more connected than rural ones. Yet, there are not many studies available which look at urban issues relating to ICT diffusion. Likewise, there are only few comparative urban studies and even fewer comparative urban statistics attempts available concerning ICT development. From the point of view of cities and urban areas it would be valuable to know the impact of ICT on economic growth, social cohesion, quality of life and sustainability. Use of e-government activities is also an important area of interest, because in cities there is a variety of demands recognised for transactions between administration and residents. All in all, it would be desirable to have well-defined sets of ICT statistics for cities and other sub-national entities for measurement and monitoring purposes. Countries, regions and cities need to know their position (what they have and where they are) in terms of ICT facilities and activities. This is a challenge for urban statistics and analysis. The editors would like to thank the contributing authors for their profound and insightful reviews and encouraging examples of developments in the field of ICT statistics made available to the statistical community. The experiences analysed and communicated in the articles will help pave the way towards future progress.


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Asta Manninen, Lea Parjo. Heli Jeskanen-Sundström. "Introduction." Internat. Statist. Rev. 71 (1) April 2003.


Published: April 2003
First available in Project Euclid: 17 March 2004

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Vol.71 • No. 1 • April 2003
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