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The internet and the world-wide web have made the electronic exchange and sharing of data easier and more frequent. However, exchanges often take place in an ad-hoc manner, using all kinds of formats and non-standard concepts. This creates the need for common standards, guidelines and tools to enable more efficient processes for exchanging and sharing statistical data and metadata.
Step forward SDMX.
Statistical Data and Metadata eXchange (SDMX) is the name that was given by seven international sponsor organisations (including Eurostat) to an initiative designed "to manage and automate the process of data and metadata exchange".
SDMX is a business choice (as opposed to a technical choice), which is about improving the quality of exchanges through standardisation, automation, validation and data sharing.
SDMX is a standard (indeed an ISO standard, 17369:2013) designed to describe statistical data and metadata, to normalise their exchange, and to enable them to be shared more efficiently among organisations.
To meet these three requirements, SDMX has three key components:
a model - Information Model - to describe data and metadata
a standard for automated communication (called the Content-Oriented Guidelines)
an IT architecture and set of tools for data and metadata exchange.
SDMX is therefore much, much more than just a data transmission format.
Please note that all the technical specification documents about SDMX that describe the standards are available for consultation. Furthermore, SDMX continues to evolve with improvements and new functions. Some of these developments, such as the technical specifications of a new validation and transformation language (VTL) are also available for public review.