To meet the increasing demand for better and timelier data, DOS embarked on several initiatives to improve the process of data collection and dissemination by optimising the use of existing sources of administrative data as well as making strategic use of advances in technology.

Improvements in Data Collection

In 2000, Singapore’s first register based Census of Population was conducted. The register-based approach to Census 2000, supplemented by a large-scale survey, marked a watershed in the history of Census-taking in Singapore.

For the first time since 1871, information was no longer “canvassed” from the entire population. Instead, basic demographic information was sourced from administrative registers, while additional data required for in-depth studies were collected from a sample of the population. Census 2000 exploited the possibilities offered by the IT revolution by adopting a tri-modal data collection strategy comprising Internet enumeration, Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) and fieldwork.

To facilitate submission of survey returns, customised survey forms for the monthly Producer Prices Surveys were disseminated automatically through the Department's email system since 2003, raising productivity significantly. This application was subsequently extended to other surveys such as the Monthly Surveys on Retail Sales and Catering Trade, Quarterly Survey of Wholesale Trade and Quarterly Survey of Services.

In the General Household Survey 2005, DOS adopted the use of Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and an automated system of mobile phone SMS alerts for the first time, to facilitate data collection in the field.


Improvements in Data Dissemination

In the area of data dissemination, the SingStat website was positioned as a portal providing access to official statistics on Singapore compiled by DOS and other government agencies. The website also contains links to overseas statistical agencies and international organisations.

With effect from June 2006, DOS has made its publications available for free access via the SingStat website. Since its launch in 1995, the website has undergone continuous enhancements and revamps in terms of its contents and ease of navigation to better serve users' needs. The last revamped website was launched on 10 May 2018. 

Data users may subscribe to the Singstat Express service, which delivers to subscribers email notifications of the latest press releases, notices of publication, occasional/information papers and Statistics Singapore Newsletter as soon as they are released. An SMS alert service is also available for local users.

Key Statistical Developments in the 2000s

Year Activity
  • Singapore’s first register-based Census of Population was conducted.
  • Singapore met all of the International Monetary Fund’s Special Data Dissemination Standards (SDDS) requirements at the time of subscription.
  • The SingStat Express email notification service and the SingStat DataShop@GovMall were launched.
  • The SingStat website was revamped.
  • Customised survey forms for the monthly Producer Prices Surveys were disseminated automatically through the Department's email system.
  • The SingStat Express service was enhanced and provided an option for local users to subscribe to SMS notifications.
  • The reporting format for the services account in Singapore’s Balance of Payments was expanded.
  • The internet-accessible time series system, SingStat Time Series (STS) Online, was launched to replace the TREND System.
  • The General Household Survey 2005 was conducted and adopted the use of Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) in data collection for the first time.
  • The softcopies of DOS’ latest publications were made available for free access on the SingStat website.
  • The SingStat website was revamped.
  • Singapore’s fifth Census of Population after Independence and the fourteenth in the history of census taking, was conducted.
  • The RSU of the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR)* was de-gazetted, while the RSU of the National Environment Agency (NEA) was gazetted under the Statistics Act.
    * MEWR was since renamed as Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE) in 2020.
  • The RSU of the Energy Market Authority of Singapore (EMA) was gazetted under the Statistics Act.
  • The Statistics Act was amended to clarify DOS’ legislative power to obtain information from public sector agencies and allow for anonymised microdata access to public agencies and persons specified in the Third Schedule.
  • The RSU of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) was gazetted under the Statistics Act.
  • The SingStat website was revamped.
  • SingStat Table Builder, a web-based application, was rolled out to enable users to build customised data tables, and export the data in different file formats.
  • The SingStat Mobile App was launched to facilitate easy access to key statistics spanning 26 categories from various government agencies, and allow users to search for specific data, mix and match indicators, and visualise them easily with more than 200 charts.
  • The First Schedule of the Statistics Act was updated to incorporate changes in economic activities to better reflect the current structure of the Singapore economy.
  • Free access to over 15,000 statistical data series, especially historical time series data, was made available on the SingStat website.
  • Activity: The e-survey service was enhanced to allow businesses to submit their returns on the go using mobile devices.
  • The SingStat Website was further enhanced in its latest revamp with user-friendly features and mobile responsiveness to improve users' navigation experience via all devices.
  • The inclusion of Developer APIs complements the multi-table download feature in easing access to data via the SingStat Table Builder.