A pilot project to inform policy development through the combination of Census and social security information was established between the ABS and the Department of Social Services.
The ABS is already a user of big data - with considerable potential to use much more - as effective use of this government data reduces our need to collect information separately and directly from households and businesses.
ABS is moving beyond the public data environment to draw insights from retail scanner data, to explore options with other data sources such as investigating the use of satellite imagery to measure agriculture crop yields and new methodological approaches to using telecommunication location information.
The spatial opportunities of big data approaches are considerable and have the potential to fundamentally change how we produce population information - especially the extent to which we can measure temporal dynamics which have generally been beyond the reach of traditional approaches.
Woolworths Limited director of group retail services Penny Winn said the company has been deliberately shying away from traditional mass advertising for its new insurance business.
Woolworths' combined insurance statistics database and frequent shopper database found those who buy milk and red meat are better insurance risks than those who have pasta, rice and liquor in their shopping baskets. As a result, Woolworths are able to target those good insurance risk customers directly with better insurance offers.
“What we've been able to do is take our insurer's car crash database and overlay it with our Woolworth's Rewards database. I rarely see actuaries get excited but they were very excited about what we found because it was so statically significant,” said Winn.
“Because you see, customers who drink lots of milk and eat lots of red meat are very, very, very good car insurance risks versus those who eat lots of pasta and rice, fills up their petrol at night, and drink spirits. What that means is we're able to tailor an insurance offer that targets those really good insurance risk customers and give them a good deal via direct channels instead of above-the-line [advertising]. And it helps to avoid the bad insurance risks.”
It seems that along with an individual’s name, address, marital status, income range, education level, ancestry, personal hygiene regimen, criminal or traffic infringement record, taxation liability and/or welfare payment history, medication and health status, the ABS would also like to have the option of assessing the individual’s alcohol consumption and insurance risk level.