METeOR an inventive breakthrough @aihw

METeOR, a new interactive online metadata registry released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, promises better health and welfare statistics, and potential application across many other areas of government.

METeOR was launched at the National Museum of Australia by James O'Loghlin, host of ABC TV's The New Inventors.

METeOR (METadata [electronic] Online Registry) combines an innovative metadata registry concept and state of the art technology to help ensure absolute consistency in health and welfare metadata (or 'data about data'), resulting in more comparable and accurate statistics.

AIHW Director Dr Richard Madden said that with 7 million records a year from all over Australia being added to the AIHW's hospital database alone, and demands for authoritative data rising exponentially, the potential for chaos was 'huge'.

'But METeOR is an absolute breakthrough in bringing order out of chaos so that not only can you compare "apples with apples", you can compare apples harvested on a particular day, or by variety, colour, size or in any other useful way, and you would need to compare fewer of them to come up with accurate conclusions.'

Dr Madden said an additional and very important benefit was that the technology in METeOR served to draw together Australia's community of data developers and data providers in the health and welfare fields and encouraged them to share ideas and information.

'METeOR will act as a "hub" of data standards, linking health, housing and community services data information. I'm hopeful that the mechanisms, processes and standards within METeOR will not only be the 'gold standard' for administrative and survey data as at present-the same standards could also cross into the "brave new world" of e-health and be used for clinical data.'

'This would open up a "treasure trove" of data to all kinds of interesting analyses.

'There is also the potential to use the standards in METeOR in other areas of government, and in whole-of-government approaches to metadata. METeOR could even be used as a global metadata registry for health, community services and housing assistance', Dr Madden said.

David Braddock, Head of the AIHW's Metadata Management Unit, said that all statisticians knew that good metadata was the key to standardising the way data is collected and reported, and giving data proper meaning.

'METeOR is so useful in that not only is it the repository of the metadata; it manages the history and development of these structures and definitions, and makes them available to users.'

'A user can raise a new standard, or put one together using parts of pre-approved standards. All this is shared instantly with other interested parties, who can then use METeOR to have the standard approved online by the relevant national data committee.'

Mr Braddock said METeOR would allow development of metadata more easily and cheaply, to current international standards.

(METeOR is available online at http://meteor.aihw.gov.au)

20 May 2005

Further information: Mr David Braddock, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1136 or 0407 915 851,
Ms Heather Logie, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1051 or 0401 068 762