What You Need Is What You Know: Policy Drivers for the Use of Internet-Based Statistics
Joost van der Vleuten
Directorate General of Energy, Telecommunication and Markets, Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, The Hague, Netherlands

The internet opens up unprecedented possibilities for real time measurement of on line behaviour and also for applying new methods for data gathering, from searchbots to crowd sourcing. Presently the internet is rapidly developing as a general purpose technology with disruptive consequences for all sectors of economy and society. Moreover the internet challenges and changes existing institutions and proven procedures. It is the interaction between these two developments - new methods for data gathering and disruptive change in economy and society - that has lead up to two Dutch research projects: “Internet as a Data Source” (IAD) and “Internet as a Data Source”.

“Internet as a Data Source” is a research project of Statistics Netherlands that focuses on the impact of ICT on the economy, society and on the consequences of new ICT for the statistical offices. It explores fields like Government ICT projects, ICT means in the public sector, Internet robots, Internet trade and Rapid economic indicators. Provisionary results will be discussed in terms of lessons learned and questions popping up. These questions concern economic developments like 'What type of business, company or sector is prone to transition to the web, which are resistant?

There are questions concerning statistics as well: how can the internet be used for data gathering? What are the consequences for the quality of the data produced? Is it possible to maintain the same rigid standards for data quality and integrity or would it be better to switch to another quality paradigm? And if so, what are the required elements of the policies for internet based statistics? A first attempt will be made to answer some of these questions, based on the Dutch experiences of 'Internet as data source and “Impact ICT”.

Keywords: Policy for public statistics; Impact of ICT on economy; Internet as a data source; Official statistics

Biography: Joost van der Vleuten was researcher on literary criticism at the University of Utrecht, worked as a communications advisor and wrote speeches for the Dutch minister of Public Works and Water management. In 2000 he switched to public policy strategy, since 2003 for the Ministry of Economic Affairs. He works mainly in the fields of telecommunications and energy and contributed to the Dutch policy for broadband, net neutrality and smart grids. He was manager of projects like “Internet as a Data Source”, “Internet as a Data Source” and “Internet as a Data Source”. In 2007 one of the spin offs of the latter project was the “Internet as a Data Source”. This successful project was taken one step further with the program “Internet as a Data Source”, led by National Dutch Statistics. Van der Vleuten is member of the Quality Assurance Board of this project and he is representative of the Netherlands in the EU Future Internet Forum.