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Background to 2013 Census products and services release schedule


Background to 2013 Census products and services release schedule outlines when and how we will be releasing data collected during the 2013 Census.

2013 Census products and services will be released progressively from 15 October 2013 to June 2015. This page:

  • provides a link to the release schedule
  • explains how the schedule will be updated
  • describes how the release schedule was created
  • outlines what factors Statistics New Zealand took into consideration when deciding the publishing order of the products.

Release schedule gives census data users certainty

2013 Census products and services will be released progressively starting from 15 October 2013, when the first release of data will occur.

Further products and services using 2013 Census data will continue through until June 2015.

The release schedule has a list of product descriptions and timings and will be updated quarterly. The closer the product is to release, the more detailed information will be provided. For example, products released within the first six months will have specific release dates but products released towards the end of the schedule will have 3-month release windows indicated.

Providing a release schedule in this format, gives census data users certainty about when products will be published and also gives the census production team some flexibility to make changes to the schedule if required. 

Many factors behind creating the schedule

We have many factors to consider when deciding which census products will be produced and when they will be released. When deciding on the order of release, we need to balance the needs of our key census data users (including central government, local councils, and academic institutions), with the time we need to create the products. In some cases we depend on information from other agencies, such as the final electorate boundaries from the Representation Committee.

The factors we take into consideration are:

  • users’ needs and avoiding duplication of work
  • resources required to create a product
  • the importance of census products
  • wide range of topics to be covered
  • detail of information to be released
  • catering for different audiences
  • release of other similar products using census data
  • key performance indicators
  • suitable days and time periods
  • relevant events and dates. 

Users' needs and avoiding duplication of work

We have taken into account the timeframe requirements of our key census data users. Understanding when they need information helps us to meet their needs, as well as avoiding duplication of work. For example, if a product is not released until early 2015, some users may ask for customised data requests to get their information earlier. This may duplicate work for Statistics NZ staff, or people in other parts of the Official Statistics System.

Resources required to create a product

Before we decide on a release date, we consider: the time required to produce the product, its complexity, the number of people in each production team, and the capacity to produce different products at the same time. Some agencies plan their work around our scheduled release dates, so it is important that these dates are realistic and we can meet the timeframes we commit to in the schedule.

The importance of census products

We use a prioritisation matrix to assess the relative importance of census products. The prioritisation criteria include:

  • user needs criteria – the value of the product for different users
  • product content – topics and variables as a primary focus, the range of data, national level and regional data, and effectiveness for Māori
  • promotional value – whether the product is required for promotional activities
  • other considerations – whether there is a high demand for the product or a similar product is produced elsewhere. 

Where possible, products which ranked high in our prioritisation will be produced in the first six months after first release, products with a medium ranking will be produced in the following six months, and products with a lower ranking will be produced in the last six months of the release period.

Wide range of topics to be covered

We have tried to schedule the release of products so that we cover a wide range of topics as we go, rather than having all information on a certain topic released at once. Releasing the products according to topic could mean a very long wait for some data users, whereas others would have access to all the information they want relatively quickly. This would not be desirable for those waiting for topics that appear later in the schedule.

Detail of information to be released

The release schedule has been designed so that less detailed information on a particular topic is released before the more detailed information. This approach means that data users will have access to the more basic information and trends which help provide context to the subject area, before exploring the more detailed information in later releases.

Catering for different audiences

The 2013 Census products will meet the needs of a range of different audiences, from the general public, right through to professional and technical users. We have tried to meet the needs of our audiences progressively over the release period.

Release of other similar products using census data

Similar products using our census data may be planned by other areas within Statistics NZ, or by external agencies. We will actively coordinate the release of census products containing 2013 Census data across the Official Statistics System.

Key performance indicators

Statistics NZ has key performance indicators that measure the success of the 2013 Census. They include:

  • quality
    • user satisfaction with the relevance of census products and services
    • metadata information complete for first release
  • timeliness
    • no more than nine months between census day and first release
    • releasing our products at the time the schedule has forecast
    • no more than 27 months between census day and the last product release
    • customised requests available from the first release
  • quantity
    • similar product volume as for the 2006 Census.

Suitable days and time periods

The preferred days for census releases are Tuesdays. This aligns with our 2013 Census day (Tuesday, 5 March).

We also want to increase public awareness of our products by generating media interest when they are released.

The period from mid-December through to the end of January is not a desirable time for releases given public holidays, staff leave, and user availability, so no releases are planned for this period.

Relevant events and dates

For some products there are certain dates or events that are significant, so we have tried to time our release of the products to coincide with those dates.

How we decide which products make up the first release

The first release of census data is a significant milestone for Statistics NZ, and is much anticipated by our key census data users, the media, and the public. This year, an initial group of products will be released on 3 December, closely followed by a high-profile product release a week later.

Requirements for the first release

Considerable thought goes into deciding which products will make up the first release. As well as choosing products that interest the public, we take into account the following:

  • the release should cover national, sub-national, and some topic areas
  • the release should include text-based information (not just numbers)
  • the products selected should be relatively quick and simple to produce (as we have approximately six weeks from receiving processed data to output our first release)
  • all metadata products will be available at the time of the first release
  • we should be able to service customised requests at the time of the first release.

Users and producers of official statistics

Key census data users

Key census data users are made up of mainly central and local government analysts, who use and analyse census data for policy making and long-term planning.
This group can also include academics and researchers from tertiary organisations and the private sector.

The Official Statistics System

The Official Statistics System is the government-wide system of agencies involved in producing and disseminating official statistics. Official statistics are all statistics produced by government departments and specified Crown entities.

Official statistics and the Official Statistics System has more information.

Published 4 June 2013

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