Statistical Indicators
Benchmarking the Information Society



Accurate and reliable statistics are crucial to our understanding of economic and social phenomena. They enable us to quantify trends in business and society, evaluate policy measures implemented to influence these trends, and, hence, lay the foundations for future policy design. At a time of profound and rapid change, statistics are especially important in benchmarking the many new facets and trends of the emerging digital economy and information society. Currents statistical data and methods are inadequate for this task, however: The bulk of official statistics are tuned to the economic system of a Europe dominated by manufacturing rather than services, tangible assets rather than intangibles, and traditional rather than flexible employment models. Many national and supranational statistical agencies have begun to address these shortcomings. Nevertheless, new statistical indicators are required which reflect key aspects of societal development in Europe's increasingly service-oriented, knowledge-driven economies.

The SIBIS project had the objectives to:

  • provide a conceptual and methodological framework for mapping and benchmarking Information Society developments;
  • take stock of existing statistical concepts and data sources in this field and check their suitability to meet user requirements;
  • pilot new statistical indicators which take account of the rapidly changing nature of e-Europe;
  • provide selected data not only on the majority of EU Member States and in the Acceding and Candidate Countries but as far as possible also on the USA and Switzerland as a benchmarking reference point;
  • contribute to the development of policy in the area.

These objectives have been met by producing a set of final deliverables which provide considerable added value to the project target audience. These are amongst others

  • Nine Topic reports on nine major topics from the eEurope action lines (telecommunications and access, the Internet for R&D, security and trust, education, work, employment and skills, social inclusion, e-commerce, e-government, health). The reports contain a benchmarking of the progress of European countries towards the Information Society based on empirical data that was both, assembled from existing sources and collected by means of innovative surveys among the European population and private firms.
  • Ten EU Acceding / Candidate Country Reports
  • The eEurope Indicator Handbook which contains a detailed presentation of the indicator system for assessing the Information Society in the nine SIBIS domains, definitions and descriptions of each indicator, their source(s) and possible methods of data collection and possible uses as part of aggregated compound indices. The indicators included are
    (a) either entirely new, i.e. developed by the SIBIS partners during the course of the project or
    (b) extracted from existing sources.
  • An eEurope Action evaluation which contains qualitative evaluations of the progress that the EU member and the Acceding / Candidate Countries states are making in regard to the implementation of key eEurope Action Lines in 2001 and 2002/03.
  • A SIBIS 2002/03 Pocketbook and 2002 Highlights document together with a Synthesis Report in 2003 summarising key results in glossy booklet format.

In order to meet the objectives the SIBIS project carried out the following steps of work:

  • Development of a benchmarking framework as a basis and foundation of the project, including a consistent structure for the analysis of each of the SIBIS topics.
  • Topic Research and Indicator Development : a stock-taking exercise of existing indicators and identification of measurement gaps based on an evaluation of policy documents, documents from statistical sources and scientific literature in the SIBIS topic areas for all 15 EU Member States and the above 10 Acceding and Candidate Countries. Moreover, a specification of new indicators for which existing data has not been evaluated yet or which are in need of entirely new data collections is included.
  • Design and conduct of general population surveys in 2002 and 2003 in all 15 EU Member States, 10 Acceding and Candidate Countries, Switzerland and the US including more than 20,000 respondents and decision maker surveys of organisations and businesses in order to fill in some of the gaps within the presently available data.
  • Evaluation and benchmarking of key eEurope 2005 actions implementation in EU countries using the SIBIS indicators which come closest to those developed by the eEurope initiative and the corresponding empirical data from the above representative surveys for all 15 EU Member States and 10 Acceding and Candidate Countries
  • Topic reports implementing the indicator system and providing a comparison of European countries in regard to their progress towards the information society in the 9 different research domains of SIBIS (Telecommunications & Access, Internet for R&D, Security & Trust, Education, Work, skills and employment, Social inclusion, e-Commerce, e-Government, Health).
  • In depth description of the indicator system, documentation of the experiences gained in indicator piloting, evaluation of indicator validity, reliability etc. and discussion of future indicator development and options of data collection beyond the reach of SIBIS, proposition of further research issues in regard to the IS in a SIBIS new eEurope Indicator Handbook .
  • In addition a SIBIS Highlights document and Statistics Pocketbook were developed and published.