In Box: Making sense of census data

Businesses paying no attention to the national census are overlooking valuable source of market knowledge that could inform their long-term planning and strategic decision-making. So says Ivan Motley, director of demographic analyst company Informed Decisions (.id).
Motley says Wellington City Council has stolen match on other local councils seeking to provide online tools to make it easier for businesses and potential investors to make use of census data.
The council is using .id’s services to launch New Zealand’s first online community profile and forecast its population until 2031. The free-to-use, searchable profile will be updated as Statistics New Zealand progressively releases 2011 census data.
“The council is presenting the census data in way that tells people about the way the city has changed historically and how it’s likely to change in the future,” Motley says.
“They’ve provided very powerful tool for decision-making that reveals long-term trends and patterns that should inform senior leaders’ thinking as they position their businesses to take advantage of demographic changes.”
Motley says that using the same data sources as local councils can help senior leaders develop their thinking beyond markets and conceptualise their businesses in terms of place and community.
“Our experience in Australia is that successful businesses have increasingly become conscious of their contribution to society and the triple bottom line.
“If you’re using an appropriate evidence base that shows you’re considering the community and your contribution to it, you’re on the same page as local government,” Motley says.
“Pretty much every business has to go through councils to get approval for their activities, whether they’re retailers, utilities providers or members of the building industry.
“Using the same data as those councils is the best way to start building successful business case that demonstrates how your proposal will align with future developments.”
Visit the Wellington community profile at

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