Na­tion turns to big data to gauge in­fla­tion

China Daily (Canada) - - BUSINESS - By MENG JING mengjing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Through team­ing up with high-tech com­pa­nies, China’s Na­tional Bureau of Sta­tis­tics will start us­ing big data tech­nol­ogy to im­prove the col­lect­ing, pro­cess­ing and pro­duc­ing of the coun­try’s con­sumer price in­dex, a key gauge of in­fla­tion.

Xian Zude, chief statis­ti­cian with the NBS, said in an in­ter­view with xin­huanet. com on Wed­nes­day that his bureau will use big data to achieve a “break­through” in the cen­sus of the CPI.

He added that the bureau will in­clude data from Chi­nese e-com­merce com­pa­nies in of­fi­cial sta­tis­tics in an ef­fort to bring the CPI cen­sus to the next level and ease the time-con­sum­ing tasks of those do­ing the cen­suses and sur­veys.

Cur­rently, when NBS con­ducts a cen­sus for the CPI, it ran­domly se­lects sam­ple lo­ca­tions and sends peo­ple to knock on doors and do face-to-face in­ter­views, Xian re­vealed in the in­ter­view.

It was the first time an NBS of­fi­cial has pub­licly dis­cussed the strat­egy since the bureau signed a strate­gic part­ner­ship agree­ment in late Novem­ber with 11 hightech Chi­nese com­pa­nies to de­velop big data tech­nol­ogy.

The 11 com­pa­nies, hail­ing from a num­ber of dif­fer­ent in­dus­tries, in­clude e-com­merce gi­ant Alibaba Group Hold­ing Ltd, lead­ing search en­gine Baidu Inc, China United Net­work Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Co Ltd, the coun­try’s sec­ond-largest mo­bile op­er­a­tor; and the FANYA Metal Ex­change, one of the largest spot trad­ing and in­vest­ing plat­forms for rare met­als.

Ma Jiantang, head of the bureau, said at the sign­ing cer­e­mony of the strate­gic part­ner­ship that the era of pro­duc­ing, shar­ing and us­ing data is com­ing.

“Big data will be­come the foun­da­tion of gov­ern­ment man­age­ment, so­cial man­age­ment and macroe­co­nomic con­trol,” Ma said.

“There are two things about big data tech­nol­ogy that are spe­cial for us. One is the huge amount of data, and the other is that the data come in dif­fer­ent forms,” Xian said, adding that along with num­bers, pic­tures and text also can be in­cluded in sta­tis­ti­cal work us­ing big data tech­nol­ogy.

By co­op­er­at­ing with the 11 com­pa­nies, the bureau can ex­plore how to use the tech­nol­ogy in of­fi­cial sta­tis­tics and make its sta­tis­tics more sci­en­tific, he said.

Xian said the rea­son the bureau chose to co­op­er­ate with the 11 com­pa­nies is be­cause they ei­ther pro­duce or col­lect data. “This is only our first step,” he said. “We will co­op­er­ate with more com­pa­nies in the fu­ture.”

Huang Linli, a se­nior an­a­lyst with Baidu Inc, said her com­pany has some nat­u­ral ad­van­tages in de­vel­op­ing big data tech­nol­ogy.

“Ne­ti­zens’ search re­quests ex­ceed 5 bil­lion a day on baidu.com. The data gen­er­ated from those searches will be very valu­able to the gov­ern­ment for mak­ing pred­i­ca­tions on the econ­omy, as well as other sec­tors.”

Hu Tingt­ing, a big data an­a­lyst with the Bei­jing­based Analysys In­ter­na­tional, an In­ter­net mar­ket con­sult­ing firm, said it is a good thing for the gov­ern­ment and that more and more com­pa­nies are aware of the value of data.

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