National Statistics Offices (NSOs) are facing ever-growing demands for timely and quality official data and statistics due to rapid technological developments and COVID-19. To meet these demands, NSOs are exploring other non-traditional sources of data, but at the same time, they need to maintain data quality, ethics, and privacy protection standards that align with the UN Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics. In pursuing this goal, they face several new challenges including building partnerships with private data holders, investing in new infrastructures and human resources, and updating data governance arrangements.
The UN Statistical Commission recognized the needs to address these challenges and established the UN Committee of Experts on Big Data and Data Science for Official Statistics (UN-CEBD) at its 45th session to facilitate coordinated efforts and explore innovative solutions. UN-CEBD has eight Tasks Teams including the Task Team on Big Data which is responsible for investigating the benefits and challenges of using big data for monitoring and reporting on SDGs.
UN-CEBD arranges annual International Conferences on Big Data and Data Science for Official Statistics and the latest Conference was held in Yogyakarta from 7th to 11th November 2022 with the theme of Global Challenges and the Importance of Relevant and Timely Data. Workshops on Earth Observation Data, AIS, Cell Phone Data, Data Scanner, Machine-Learning and Privacy-Preserving Techniques and UN Big Data and UN PET Lab hackathons also accompanied the main Conference.
The Conference generated insightful discussions, and this ESCAP Stats Café aimed to share the key takeaways and ways forward with relevant stakeholders in Asia and the Pacific region. The session started with opening remarks from Ms Rachael Beaven—Director of Statistics Division, ESCAP—and Mr Ronald Jansen—Assistant Director of UN Statistics Division, DESA, UNSD. Following the showcase, a video highlights activities from the Conference. Speakers from NSOs and UNFCCC who attended the Conference and UN Big Data Hackathon also shared their experiences, lessons learned, and inputs on ways forward. Lastly, the ESCAP’s big data guide on "Using big data for official statistics: Key considerations when using mobile phone data" was disseminated.