C.2. Means of dissemination
21.27. Both data and metadata can be disseminated in various formats and by various means. The present Guide advises that the statistics compiled within the framework for describing the international supply of services be made available to users through the electronic databases maintained by the responsible agency. An efficient use of information technology may also simplify the production of statistical publications, whether in electronic or paper form.
21.28. The nature of the data to be published will have a significant influence on the form of technology used for dissemination. For example, large, detailed data sets are likely to be more appropriately published electronically, since the format increases the ability of users to adapt the presentation of the data to satisfy their information needs. Likewise, where very large amounts of data are involved, the ability to query the data and create customized data sets could be useful. In that instance, it is worth considering creating interactive tools, such as an online table-building facility, with a user-friendly interface. Often such online facilities also provide the option to display the data in interactive graphs or maps, or via such other forms of visualization as infographics. Such visualizations can be very helpful for communicating data and information (e.g., trends over time, distributions, comparisons across groups and geographical origin/destination) clearly to users and can make complex information stories easy to grasp.
21.29. Web-based electronic publications can also contain data and metadata presented in html format, as a downloadable document (e.g., PDF) or a spreadsheet. Internet access is clearly a key consideration when assessing user accessibility and the additional publication of some data sets in a printed format. It should be considered in those areas in which Internet access is limited or lack of bandwidth would make downloading the data too slow. (See chapter 20, section C, for more information on data and metadata dissemination.)
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 Such databases should: (a) allow free and equal access to all users to any data record considered part of official trade in services statistics; (b) contain an extensive metadata and knowledge base; (c) allow for easy querying, with a user-friendly interface on the entire database, and for downloading query results in commonly-used data formats, such as spreadsheets and comma-delimited text files, thus reducing the need for personalized handling of most data requests and greatly enhancing the efficiency of data dissemination.