The UN Statistical Commission held a seminar on “Big Data for Policy, Development and Official Statistics,” which examined how the Internet, mobile devices and other technologies, such as sensor networks, have fundamentally changed the nature of data.
26 February 2013: The UN Statistical Commission held a seminar on “Big Data for Policy, Development and Official Statistics,” which examined how the Internet, mobile devices and other technologies, such as sensor networks, have fundamentally changed the nature of data.
Big data has the potential to change the ways in which National Statistical Offices (NSOs) use data, especially as more quality and timely statistics become available. Big data differs from “traditional” data by its real time nature, as well as by speed, type and volume. The speed at which new data is created by a range of sources means that there have been large increases in the volume of data, in addition to shifts from a highly structured, centralized and easily managed nature to a loosely structured, highly distributed manner.
The Seminar on Big Data for Policy took place on 22 February 2013, at UN headquarters in New York, US. Participants considered several questions related to how NSOs can harness Big Data to improve economic performance, environmental sustainability and social well-being. Discussion topics included: using Big Data for official government purposes; examining the potential roles of NSOs in certifying the statistical quality of emerging sources or in ensuring new statistics meet quality standards; and attracting employees with the knowledge and skills to use Big Data for official statistical purposes. Participants also considered challenges related to analysis, interpretation, privacy and security. Event panelists included representatives from NSOs, UN Global Pulse, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Google, Amazon Web Services and SAS.
The event was held in advance of the opening of the 44th Session of the Commission, which is taking place from 26 February to 1 March 2013. Among other topics, the Commission is expected to discuss the role of statistics in measuring sustainable development progress during a High-level Forum on the theme of “Official Statistics’ response to the Rio+20 Mandate for Broader Measures of Progress.” [UNSO Event Overview] [Big Data Concept Note] [Key Questions on Big Data] [UN Press Release on Big Data Event] [UN Press Release on Commission Meeting]