Surfing with Ed on the Internet ...

by Ed Swires-Hennessy, Welsh Office

Ed continues his appraisals of different national Web Sites to stimulate use of the Internet, share best practice and encourage debate.

I am grateful to Alwyn Pritchard for the suggested site for this month – the National Statistical Committee of the Kyrgyz Republic - http://nsc.bishkek.su/ where the first page is adorned with a large graphic of welcome and two smaller graphics allowing a choice of languages, English or Russian. Some of the pages on the site were slow to load, probably reflecting communications problems, but the patient browser is rewarded! All the up-to-date headline economic and financial data are given in a simple table with two percentage change figures (change on last period and on one year ago). This is similar to a design commended in an earlier review: here though the links from each datum is more expansive: one is linked to more expansive data tables and not to the press notice. Indeed I did not find any reference to press notices!

Within the simple headline data table the presenter is faced with a typical dilemma: do the latest data appear in the first or second column? For this site the counter-intuitive position is chosen with the latest data in the first column with the previous period’s data in the second column. This is certainly confusing to someone who usually puts the data in a logical left-right order for oldest-newest. The same format is not followed on the more detailed tables (see below) where the proper convention is followed.

I followed some of the links from the headline data table and found much more detail available. A simple summary of the statistics is available in HTML format (web pages) but the more detailed data is downloaded in Excel bilingual format in English and Russian. Some English language errors appear on the site – like the use of the phrase ‘Previous month = 100’ for the description of consumer price indices (and the previous month was not = 100!). At the time of the review 13 datasets appeared in the ‘real’ sector (Agriculture and Industrial) and 6 datasets in ‘external’ sector (External Trade). The data are updated frequently with many of the tables viewed having been updated in the last week.

On publications, the Advance release dates calendar is quite generic using phrases such as ‘6th day after the reference period’. Unfortunately, the calendar related to 1998 though it would not take much revision to remove the year specific information. A note on the major publications is in a text file with links from a simple sub menu at the top of the page. Four publications are noted in the index without links to details.

The publications policy of the National Statistics Committee is clearly stated in two parts: first on the issue of paper publications, with the clear aspiration that much analytical comment would be provided, and secondly on data issue. The latter includes the aspiration to publish on diskette and CD-Rom.

This review was undertaken using Internet Explorer v4 on 19 May at 08.00 using a direct link via the UK academic network using a Siemens Pro C6 PII 266 MHz machine.

Suggestions of interesting sites or interesting features found at statistical sites should be sent to me at

Ed.Swires-Hennessy@Wales.gsi.gov.uk

or by snail mail to National Assembly for Wales, Cathays Park, Cardiff, CF10 3NQ.

.......... Happy surfing ..