Department of Communications launches research site, podcast

In an effort to provide information to more people, the Australian government's communications department has launched both a website of graphs and a podcast.

The Department of Communications has launched a Data Lab presenting statistics on the uptake and usage of internet services in Australia as well as a semi-frequent podcast, aiming to bring information on policy and activities to a greater number of people.

The so-called Data Lab, accessible on the website for the department's Bureau of Communications Research (BCR), aims to "make communications sector research easier to digest through its collection of visualisations".

The website includes graphs and charts on the volume of data downloaded between June 2010 and June 2015; household communications expenditure between June 1995 and June 2015; the percentage of people country-by-country using the internet over the last decade; the 2015 Top 10 ICT Development Index countries; the demographic profile of online copyright infringers and non-infringers; internet subscribers by advertised download speeds over the last five years; numbers of fixed and wireless subscriptions over the last five years; and key economic indicators for the communications sector.

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(Image: Bureau of Communications Research)

The data is sourced from surveys undertaken by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and by the department itself.

According to graphs on the website, the information, media, and telecommunications services sector has grown from adding 2.5 percent value to Australia's gross domestic product 20 years ago to now contributing 3.1 percent.

It also revealed that the amount of data downloaded over the internet has increased by 800 percent over the last five years. Despite this, household expenditure on communications has grown by only 1.3 percentage points over the last 20 years, from 1.2 percent of total household expenditure in June 1995 to 2.5 percent in June 2015.

Fixed-line internet connections rose from 91 percent of downloads in June 2010 to just 97 percent in June 2015, with wireless connections falling from 9 percent to 3 percent over the same period.

Future research reports released by the department will also be added in chart and graph form to the Data Lab.

The Department of Communications has also launched its own podcast to present findings and discussions on communications issues and policy.

"The podcast explores the latest issues across the department's portfolio -- from emerging technologies, key policy issues, and program-delivery issues," the department said on its website.

"We're hoping this platform will be a new and engaging way for us to interact with out stakeholders and the industry."

The inaugural episode of "CommsCast" features Hugh Claplin from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and Paul Paterson from the Bureau of Communications Research, as well as Children's eSafety Commissioner Alastair MacGibbon.

The Office of the Children's eSafety Commissioner was launched last year, with the aim of removing cyberbullying content online and dealing with complaints about offensive and illegal content. The eSafety office was set up as part of the ACMA.

As eSafety commissioner, MacGibbon has the authority to force social media companies that operate in Australia, including Twitter and Facebook, to remove content deemed to be online bullying, or face fines of AU$17,000 per day.

New episodes of CommsCast will be released "every few months", with listeners able to subscribe on iTunes.