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Published on April 30th, 2014 | by Liam

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CSIRO and Census – counting the connected

The internet is a really important communication tool for people in Australia and around the world. We can send emails and instant Maths+Statsmessages, share photos and videos, and look up information on websites.

But many Australians are not connected to the internet. Getting more people connected online is difficult, and can be expensive, but it is also important. So where do we start?

Every five years The Australian Bureau of Statistics asks every Australian household to fill out the Census. In 2011, the Census had a question about internet use – so we know which areas of Australia have high or low internet use, and which areas are average. Areas with low internet use might be a good place to start.

The Census tells us how connected an area is, but it doesn’t tell us why. It would be a waste to lay new cables to people who aren’t likely to connect. We want to find people who might want the internet, but don’t have a connection.

To answer that question, more information is needed. CSIRO researchers thought they could make a good estimate of who is likely to connect. For example, older people are less likely to use the internet. Adults who did not finish year 12 are also less likely to connect. Armed with several indicators, the team estimated demand for the internet all over Australia, and then compared their predictions with the Census figures.

In many areas, the Census connection data matched the CSIRO predictions. However, there were also areas that did not match. For example, in many areas in Southern Sydney the CSIRO researchers predicted that most people would want to connect – but Census figures showed a smaller number of connected houses. Areas like Southern Sydney might be good places to start if we want more Australians to connect online.

More information

2011 Census
Household internet use (more advanced)

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