Introduction of web tables in eSurvey and revised current account survey

The Swiss National Bank is introducing a new format for the collection of statistical data on eSurvey, its online reporting portal. This new format is based on web tables, which will display the information to be reported and allow users to enter, check and submit their data. This solution is aimed at meeting the increasing requirements with regard to statistical data collection, as well as at ensuring that the survey tools are future-proof and scalable.

The new format will be phased in, and the first survey to be changed over will be the revised current account survey (CAS) as of reference date 31 March 2023. Other surveys will be switched over when major content changes are due to be made that enable or require the use of web tables.

The new web table format will only be available to users who log in to eSurvey with two-factor authentication (mTAN) and use the associated eSurvey user administration function. These functionalities will be provided in good time to those reporting institutions not already using them.

The reporting institutions' cooperation is essential for the quality of the SNB's statistics and for the economic and monetary policy decisions based on them. We would like to thank all the reporting institutions for their valuable collaboration.

  • Key points

    • Introduction of web tables for entering and submitting statistical data in eSurvey.
    • The web tables will show the reportable data for a given survey. Data can be either entered manually or uploaded using files created offline in other formats (CSV or XML), and can then be viewed, edited and checked for consistency.
    • The notes on the survey content and the consistency checks will be directly integrated in the web tables.
    • By answering an initial set of questions, the reporting institutions can adapt the web tables to reflect the relevant content.
    • Interim versions of the web table content can be saved at any time and can be edited by different users. It will also be possible to access previously submitted reports.
    • There will no longer be any Excel forms for surveys based on web tables. Instead, a CSV format will be offered that can be opened and processed in Excel. This CSV format can be individually adjusted in the web tables beforehand to reflect the relevant survey content. The XML format will continue to be available for automated reporting.
    • The first survey to be changed over to the new format will be the revised current account survey (as of reference date 31 March 2023). Other surveys will be switched over when major content changes are due to be made that enable or require the use of web tables.
    • The web tables will only be available via the eSurvey user administration function. For security reasons, users will have to log in with two-factor authentication (mTAN).
    • The introduction of web tables will allow reporting institutions to test drawing up data reports before submitting them.
    • In the following sections, you will find further details on the new web table format, the revised current account survey, and the eSurvey user administration function. More information will be provided here over the course of this year. If you subscribe to the News Alert category 'Latest survey updates', you will be notified of any changes to this page.
  • Introduction of web tables in eSurvey

    Background and aims

    Requirements regarding the degree of detail, the quality and the availability of statistical data are steadily increasing, and with them the demands on reporting tool formats. The Excel forms used to date have reached their technical limits in the case of surveys involving large data volumes. Moreover, the current technology allows only limited assistance to be offered to reporting institutions in completing their reports. The aim is to ensure a future-proof and scalable solution for data reporting that addresses the current limitations and makes it possible to give better support to reporting institutions when providing data.

    Key elements of new web table format

    The web tables for data collection and submission will run on the eSurvey platform and use the subject-specific data model.

    By answering an initial set of questions, the reporting institutions can adapt the web tables to reflect the relevant content. This is aimed at giving a clearer overview of the reportable data. Furthermore, the notes on the individual survey items can be displayed directly in the data entry web tables. Both these functionalities are aimed at giving a better understanding of the data requirements and at supporting institutions when they report data.

    Data can be entered directly in the web tables, either manually or from external sources. The XML format will remain available for automated data reporting. It will be possible to download the full survey contents or a tailored version as a CSV file, which can then be opened in Excel and linked with internal Excel sources. This will allow reports to be drawn up locally, i.e. offline from the eSurvey system. Reports created in this way can then be displayed in web tables, edited where necessary, checked for consistency and finally submitted. The Excel format used to date will no longer be available for surveys based on web tables.

    The new system will be used in conjunction with the eSurvey user administration function, and will offer the possibility of saving interim versions of reports and allowing them to be worked on by different users. Users will also be able to access previously submitted data via the web tables.

    The introduction of web tables will allow reporting institutions to test drawing up data reports before submitting them. This testing option is intended for institutions that would like to automate their reporting.

    Next steps

    The web tables and the notes on the new current account survey will be published in eSurvey in autumn 2022. The test environment for this survey will be made available in eSurvey at the same time. The new solution will go live from April 2023 when the new current account survey is conducted for the first time (reference date 31 March 2023).

    Other surveys will be switched over when major content changes are due to be made that enable or require the use of web tables.

  • Revision of current account survey

    The current account statistics provide an important source of data for Swiss industry, politics and the academic community. As a macroeconomic indicator, they are referred to not only for economic and monetary policy decisions, but also for the calculation of GDP.

    The present current account surveys (CAGQ, CABQ, CAIQ, CATQ) date back to 2012, and only minimal changes have been made since. It is important that the current account statistics comprehensively reflect economic developments and are in line with international standards regarding the compilation of statistics. To meet these requirements, major content-related changes to the surveys will be necessary as of Q1 2023.

    The largest and most important content-related changes are described below. Information on the technical changes can be found under 'Introduction of web tables in eSurvey'.

    Main changes to current account surveys

    Industry-specific surveys discontinued

    • In future, all reporting institutions will only have to complete and submit a single survey (CAS - current account survey).
    • The survey contents that currently need to be submitted by banks, insurance corporations and transport operators in the CABQ, CAIQ and CATQ surveys will be incorporated in the new current account survey CAS.

    Trade in goods (purchases and sales of goods)

    • The new survey will cover total trade in goods (expenses and income) with non-resident counterparties, unlike the present survey which covers only goods trade that does not cross the Swiss or Liechtenstein border.
    • The total trade in goods - and not just merchanting as before - will now be broken down by product class. The product classes have been redefined and are based on the CPA structure of the European Union:
    • 1. Food, beverages and tobacco products; agricultural and forestry products, 2. Textiles, wearing apparel, leather and related products, 3. Energy sources and mining/quarrying products, 4. Chemicals and chemical products, 5. Pharmaceutical products and preparations, 6. Basic metals and metal products (except gold, coins, machinery), 7. Gold (including gold coins), 8. Computer, electronic and optical products; medical and dental instruments and supplies, 9. Electrical equipment, 10. Machinery and equipment, 11. Vehicles and other transport equipment, 12. Watches and clocks, 13. Coins (except gold coins), jewellery and related articles, 14. Other product classes.
    • Merchanting (currently category 11 on form CAG08) will still be covered in the survey, but as an 'of which' item under total trade in goods with non-residents.
    • Trade in goods related to production and to manufacturing services abroad (currently categories 20 and 21 on form CAG08) will no longer be covered separately in the survey.

    Production and manufacturing services

    • In future, production and manufacturing services will be covered together in the survey; there will no longer be any differentiation between production and manufacturing.
    • The survey will also cover data on income in respect of production and manufacturing services.
    • As regards reportable expenses, the condition that the entire production and manufacturing process be exclusively located abroad will no longer apply.

    Charges for licences and intangible assets

    • Income and expenses in respect of charges for licences to use intangible assets/intellectual property (currently included in category 7 on form CAG04) will in future be broken down by product: marketing assets, intellectual property rights arising from R&D, software, audiovisual content, etc.
    • Trade in ownership rights of intangible assets (purchases and sales) will be addressed in more specific detail. For example, while trade in marketing assets is currently contained within various items, it will in future be covered as a separate item in its own right.

    Transport services

    • Freight transport (currently in category 3.1 on form CAG02) will in future be broken down by mode of transport (air, rail, road, sea) and by country, in the same way as is currently the case in CAGQ for passenger transport (category 3.2).
    • The content covered by the current CATQ survey for transport operators will no longer be included. In the case of transport services, transport operators will be asked for data on the same components as all other reporting institutions.

    Country breakdown

    • The breakdown by country will be brought in line with the international Eurostat GEO6 standard (excluding Switzerland and Liechtenstein).
    • The list of countries covered individually will be expanded accordingly, and certain countries will no longer be classed together in country groups. Algeria, Libya and Tunisia, for example, will be listed separately instead of being grouped together under 'North Africa, Other'.
    • This country breakdown is already being used in the surveys on cross-border capital linkages (INA, INP, INQ).

    Next steps

    A detailed description, including extensive information on the above changes and other minor adjustments, will be published in autumn 2022. All reporting institutions will be informed in writing at that time.

  • eSurvey user administration

    To be able to work with the new web table format, all reporting institutions will, for security reasons, be required to use the eSurvey user administration function and the login process with two-factor authentication (mTAN). This gives eSurvey users the possibility to reset forgotten passwords themselves, for example. Moreover, eSurvey administrators designated by the reporting institutions can set up eSurvey accounts themselves and allocate responsibilities.

    The user administration function was first implemented for banking statistics surveys more than four years ago and has since proved its worth.

    Switch to user administration

    From mid-August 2022, executive management at reporting institutions that are not yet using the user administration function will receive all the relevant information for setting up administration accounts in eSurvey. As soon as the accounts with administration rights have been approved, all previous accounts will be deleted. This step is essential in the changeover to two-factor authentication.

    Administration of eSurvey accounts

    The new administrators will now be able to create new accounts for users themselves with the eSurvey user administration function, as well as allocate responsibilities for surveys to these users.

    In future, users will be able to contact the eSurvey administrator at their company when they want to make changes to their eSurvey account or to their contact details stored at the SNB. Administrators' contact details can be found under 'My profile' in users' own eSurvey accounts. Here users can also change their own login details themselves.

    Sending of login details

    When a new account is set up, it first needs to be activated by the SNB. The applicant (executive management or administrator) will receive an email once this has been done. It can take up to one working day.

    The initial login details for the newly activated accounts will be made available in the applicant's eSurvey account under the contact details for the newly created account. Applicants are asked to send the login details to the account holders concerned.

    Further information on eSurvey

  • FAQ content questions

    Questions and answers on the introduction of web tables in eSurvey and revised current account survey.

    What is meant by 'individually adjusted survey content'?

    • By answering an initial set of questions, companies can individually adjust the survey content. This means that, depending on the answers they give, only the web tables and content for which data input is required will be displayed.

    Whom do I contact for any queries regarding the content of the new current account survey?

  • FAQ technical questions

    Questions and answers on the introduction of web tables in eSurvey and revised current account survey.

    Whom do I contact for any technical queries regarding the new reporting tool and eSurvey?

    What does a CSV file look like? Does it have the same format as the existing forms?

    • The CSV format comprises a one-dimensional list which includes the terms and codes for the items being surveyed as well as other specifications. Although the file can be processed in Excel, for a tabular presentation of the report in CSV format it has to be uploaded to the web tables.

    Up to now, my company has submitted its data with Excel files. What will change for me?

    • The current account survey (CAS) will be based on web tables. The previous Excel format will therefore no longer be available. Data can be entered directly in the web tables, either manually or from external sources (copy & paste). The XML format will remain available for automated data reporting. It will be possible to download the full survey contents or a tailored version as a CSV file, showing the items in the form of a list. The CSV file can be opened in Excel and linked with internal Excel sources. This allows reports to be drawn up locally, i.e. offline from the eSurvey system. Reports created in this way can then be displayed in the web tables, edited where necessary, checked for consistency and finally submitted.

    Will it still be possible to submit data using the current Excel forms (CAGQ, CABQ, CAIQ, CATQ)?

    • No. The fourth quarter of 2022 will be the last time that the existing current account survey forms (CAGQ, CABQ, CAIQ, CATQ) can be used. When the revised current account survey (CAS) is introduced as of the first quarter of 2023, the new reporting tool formats will have to be used for submitting data.

    Is the switch to the new 'web table format' compulsory?

    • For the new current account survey (CAS) only web tables, the CSV file provided for this purpose, and the XML format will be available. It will not be possible to submit data in any other format. This means that switching to one of the available formats is compulsory.

    My company is required to report data for the cross-border capital linkages surveys (INQ, INA, INP). Will these surveys also be switched over to web tables?

    • Yes, the SNB plans to switch the surveys for the cross-border capital linkages surveys (INQ, INA, INP) over to web tables, too. They will be switched over when the next major revision of content is necessary. We do not yet know when that will be.

    When can I view and test CSV files?

    • The web tables and the notes on the new current account survey will be published in eSurvey in autumn 2022. The test environment for this survey will be made available in eSurvey at the same time. This includes the CSV (and XML) files. Users registered in eSurvey automatically receive access to the test environment.
  • Current status and further development

    Status as at 30 September 2022

    The web tables and notes for the new current account survey (CAS) were made available by the SNB in the new eSurvey area 'Understanding and testing surveys' on 30 September 2022.

    Initially, the main focus is on providing the reporting institutions with detailed information about the content-related changes to the revised current account surveys. The new 'Understanding and testing surveys' area gives reporting institutions the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the new environment and the new format. However, the tool will continue to be improved and expanded in a number of respects before the new CAS survey is conducted for the first time from April 2023 (reference date 31 March 2023).

    Further development

    The SNB will be seeking to build on the initial 'Understanding and testing surveys' setup, with the following expansions and improvements being envisaged before the production environment is launched in March 2023:

    • The uploading of CSV and XML files will be enabled at the end of October, making it possible to also test and check reports created in these formats.
    • Improved performance of the new solution.
    • The integration of various search and display elements will make the tool more user-friendly and efficient.
    • Enhanced consistency check options for detecting and interpreting errors.
    • Integration of additional options for a simplified overview of the report.

    We will inform you of new elements as soon as they become available, both here and under 'News' in eSurvey.