Published on Data Blog

What happens when big data meets official statistics?

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Update: the event will be webstreamed on World Bank Live.

This is an exciting time to be in the data business. There have never been more groups, from such different backgrounds, with a passion for producing and using data for the public good.

What would happen if we brought some of these people together?


The official statistics community got its start in the 17th century, and has since been using surveys, censuses, registers and records to create statistics on all aspects of life for the public and government to use in making decisions and evaluating progress.


In the 21st century, official statistics is a mature discipline with National Statistics Offices and agencies like the UNSD and World Bank co-ordinating to build and implement the global standards, capacity and methodologies needed to produce good, dependable data.


When it comes to new ways of creating and presenting data - the mapping and geospatial data communities have made terrific progress with citizen mapping initiatives like this one the Bank has supported in Tandale; through mapping geo-coded aid information; and most recently in tying stories and media about development results to where work is happening on the ground.


And then there are the open data and big data communities who have emerged over the last 5 years. Through them, we’ve seen a huge increase in the use of public data, and more importantly, potential opportunities to use new data sources and techniques - that are often faster and cheaper - to supplement, or even replace some of the work of official statistics.


Can this really be done? Can we apply the same statistical rigour to big data sources and techniques to help meet the goals of official statistics?


Many of you joined us last month to hear how big data experts Jake Porway of DataKind, and Anthony Goldbloom of Kaggle are using data for the public good. I’d like to invite you to join us on December 19th to find out how official statistics experts Paul Cheung and Bob Groves are seeing the intersection of official statistics and big data, and the future of their discipline.


It’s going to be a great way to finish off a big year for all data - I look forward to seeing you there.


Please RSVP here as spaces are limited.


Shaida Badiee

Co-Founder and Managing Director, Open Data Watch

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