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U.K. Ponders Big Data to Measure the Economy of Uber and Airbnb

  • ONS report on sharing economy suggests using new techniques
  • Research mirrors Charlie Bean's recommendations for statistics

Britain’s statistics office is studying how to best measure the “sharing economy” and capture growing usage of services by companies including Uber Inc. and Airbnb.

The Office for National Statistics may update some of its surveys and use big data to gather information, it said in a report published Tuesday. The sharing economy in the U.K. is forecast to grow to about 9 billion pounds ($12.8 billion) in 2025 from just 500 million pounds in 2014.

The study follows a government-commissioned review of official statistics last month which said that digital activity is not being picked up by current methodologies.

The ONS plans to agree a definition of the sharing economy, identify existing surveys where new questions could be added, gain access to administrative data to understand how businesses are structured and research web scraping to gather data from companies’ websites.

The ideas mirror the recommendations put forward by former Bank of England Deputy Governor Charlie Bean in the review of statistics. Properly measuring digital activity could mean the U.K.’s growth rate is between one-third and two-thirds of a percent higher, Bean said.

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