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.id - Making sense of the census

We live in the "information age". Just visit the internet for 30 seconds and you are immediately immersed in it. Take a quick visit to any website or add an entry to one of the all pervasive social media sites and you are creating and consuming information with every key stroke.

The pros and cons of the internet can be debated endlessly but it certainly serves as an ideal way to disseminate data and important information. Take for instance the Australian census. Every five years, it produces vast amounts of statistics which, if used properly, help decision makers determine Australia's future direction. The challenge is to make sense of this overwhelming profusion of information. This is where .id comes to the fore.

Sharing knowledge

.id is a company of population experts: demographers, spatial analysts, urban planners, forecasters, census data and IT experts who build demographic information products. General Manager Janet Coombs says, "We understand how cities, towns and regions are growing and changing. Just name a place, no matter where, and we can tell you about its population's past, present and future."
By using spatial data in powerful web applications, .id share knowledge with their clients, enabling them to make confident decisions about infrastructure investment and the provision of services. .id have built over 500 websites delivering analytical and spatial decision making information to more than 200 Australian clients.

".id makes census data accessible and understandable through a range of online information tools that bring the data to life. We present it in ways that enable people to easily understand the demographics of their area; there is no need to spend a lot of time crunching the numbers themselves."

Out of the domain of the geeks

.id obtains their data from the Australian census, the largest statistical collection in Australia. It measures the number of people and dwellings in Australia and determines demographic characteristics including age, marital status, ethnicity, language, religion, income, housing, education, employment and disability. It aims to produce accurate population counts to enable the correct distribution of electorates for federal and state elections. In turn, this provides a benchmark for the allocation of revenues from the Commonwealth to the states.

The detailed information is also used by a vast range of public and private sector organisations in understanding their clients or constituents and consequently planning and locating their services.
Over the last 30 years, the development of high speed computing and the internet has facilitated:

bullet the rapid presentation and updating of information
bullet the general public to become more literate in reading and understanding data presented as maps and charts and
bullet an increasing ability for organisations to make decisions based on large volumes of empirical data and evidence.

Whilst many would see these as advances, new challenges emerge.

"The enormous volume of statistics is often underutilised. We are experts in the use of census data, taking it out of the technical geek realm (of course we have a few in our team at .id) and putting it in the hands of community and business decision makers", says Janet.

Taking on the future

Understanding Australia's current demographics enables .id to do evidence-based population forecasting. With Australia's largest dedicated population forecast team, .id's knowledge of forecast modelling, coupled with extensive local knowledge of housing markets, makes them experts at understanding what is driving change. .id quantifies and commits to hard numbers what the future populations of Australian cities, regions, towns and suburbs and will look like in 25 years time.

For organisations looking to supply infrastructure that will serve Australians for decades, this sort of information is invaluable, enabling them make strategic decisions with certainty.

Saward Dawson and .id

Our involvement with .id has matured over time. We certainly prepare annual financial statements and income tax returns for the business and its shareholders, assisting with preparation of business activity statements. However, as the relationship has developed .id has requested us to be involved in a wide range of consulting work and business queries. .id is a unique and exciting business; one that we are pleased to be their trusted advisor.

Shaping the big decisions

.id's clients are organisations who contribute to building Australian cities and communities. They include local and state governments, the education sector, housing developers, retailers, health care providers, utilities companies, banks and insurers, and membership organisations such as the Red Cross and the AFL.

The challenge of taking vast amounts of complex data from the Australian census and presenting it in ways that decision makers find relevant requires a team of people with diverse skills. For Australia to meet the challenges of the future we need the right information and the right decisions. .id is making a significant contribution to ensure the right decisions are made. Visit their website at www.id.com.au.

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