The UK central bank has set up a task force to monitor the internet and social networks with a view to collecting unconventional data that would provide a clearer picture of the economy.
Sky News reported that the Bank of England's (BoE) special team, set up by chief economist Andy Haldane, would explore how new unconventional sources of data could improve its picture of Britain's recovery.
Haldane told the news website that the bank had started to explore using unconventional data, including data gleaned from analysing internet activity, after it found that it could be more timely than the official data.
The central bank hopes that an analysis of the frequency of internet job searches, or of prices online, may provide insights into the prospects for unemployment and inflation.
"Official statistics tend to be lagging and tend to be revised. And what this scraping of the web can do is give us a better today read on what's going on," Haldane said.
He added that these "informal sources" of data "have been somewhat more reliable in picking up the uptick in the fortunes of the economy".
Haldane said the BoE was able to impose new constraints on the housing market earlier in 2014 with the help of a massive database on mortgages – a new data source used for the purpose.
The special team is constructing little models, algorithms and methods for data extraction, and has a data lab, according to Haldane, who said the initiative would be "quite a big shift from the past."