The success of any business or development plan relies almost solely on its suitability to the condition or occurrence of some future event for which it has been designed. Therefore accurately forecasting this future condition, and the level of surety that can be attributed to the forecast, is integral to the planning process. Data Analysis Australia has a range of statistical techniques at its disposal, and tailors the use of existing data and information to develop the most suitable approach for each individual forecasting project. This often involves the production of several scenarios to provide clients with a full range of strategic information and advice, essential in making an informed decision and in optimising policies and procedures.
Forecasts are usually based on an understanding of trends and patterns in historical data. Statistical models are central to this. A feature of Data Analysis Australia's approach is the use of structural information wherever possible. Rather than using 'black boxes', models are developed where the details reflect reality and actual processes. Within that approach, Data Analysis Australia has a range of methods available and for each client chooses the ones most appropriate for their situation.
Forecasting is a statistical process in two respects:
- Forecasts are often based on understanding the trends and patterns in historical data. Statistical and time series models are central to this and the steps of reviewing the data and significance testing that are used in any statistical analysis are part of the process of building these models.
- Once the models are applied, the uncertainty in the forecasts and hence the confidence that can be placed in them is also a statistical issue.
Data Analysis Australia also incorporates subjective factors into forecasting models. Structured consultation with expert panels and stakeholders is used to develop critical probability points in the models. An advantage of this approach is that it gives measures of how uncertain the future may be.
Examples of project experience where Data Analysis Australia has applied forecasting and demography analysis are listed below.
Building a Demographic Model for Australia
Demographic models for Australia are structural models, based on dividing the population into gender and birthdate groups (cohorts). Each cohort can be modelled over time using age and gender specific mortality rates. The contribution of each cohort to births can be modelled in terms of fertility rates. Data Analysis Australia has also developed advanced statistical models for migration so that population forecasts are possible for any area.
Modelling of Infrastructure Developments for an Airport
Demand for air services contributed to the development of the master plan for the Christmas Island airport. Data Analysis Australia established that this study required the assessment and modelling of major but uncertain infrastructure developments. Risk analysis methods were used to establish immediate needs while allowing a master plan to be developed that allowed for possible higher demands in the longer term.
Forecasting Metropolitan Magistrates Courts
This project investigated demand for justice facilities such as courts in Australian cities. Typically the requirement is to forecast the need for courtrooms, hearing rooms and even holding cell capacities. While it is possible to readily identify some drivers such as demographic trends, there is also a need to understand how the raw demand translates into actual facilities. Here Data Analysis Australia's structural model approach was critical.
Forecasts of Future Electricity Consumption
Data Analysis Australia was contracted to predict future electricity consumption for a major Western Australian utility. Forecasts were generated not only for total consumption but also for peak demand since this directly affects generation capacity and capital requirements. Data Analysis Australia developed medium term models for scheduling and short term models for energy trading.
Forecasting Perth Water Consumption
Daily water consumption in Perth and the extent to which it is influenced by the weather and advertising of conservation measures was examined by Data Analysis Australia. As Australia faces a possibly drier future, water management is becoming more critical and therefore such forecasts are the key to both short term planning of restrictions and the long term planning of resources.