“Big data” has a reputation problem in Japan. Spates of hacking, theft and government misuse of personal data have meant confidence in data-driven solutions has plummetted. Yet, the goverment are still optimistic; they’re widely promoting the use of data in economic growth strategy, as well as assigning tens of millions of yen from the 2015 fiscal budget to the development of a big data economy indicator.

Government sources have stated that the cabinet office are hoping to use the indicator to cull data from the internet, to give them a more complete and up-to-date picture of the Japanese economy. Proposed sources include Tweets about the purchase of goods, search engines requests on durable goods and services such as travel.

They hope the scheme will increase the accuracy of their monthly economic reports, which play a crucial role in policy drafting. Currently, the Cabinet Office uses household spending, commerce surveys and industrial output indexes to construct these reports. But alot of these sources cull data from the prior month, and don’t represent the economic climate in the present moment. They also garner weekly reports from supermarkets and regularly poll top firms, but these more up-to-date stories don’t provide a broad scope of economic activity.

Consumption can fluctuate widely, and data from the previous month cannot always capture this. A tax hike in April, for instance, was followed by an immediate plummet in consumption rates, and month-old data cannot account for fluctuations based on real-world situations. Hopefully, the economy indicator will provide Japan with a more immediate and in-depth look into their economic climate.

Read more here.
(Image credit: Luke Ma)

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