A crucial time for official statistics
The World Statistics Congress has a special place in my heart and this year’s congress comes at a particularly important juncture. Over the past 18 months, statistics have taken on new importance in the eyes of the public worldwide. We in official statistics have had to come up with new indicators and tools to support policymakers in making informed decisions, such as the European Statistical Recovery Dashboard, see https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/cache/recovery-dashboard/.
Today’s highly digital society has changed the expectations of citizens and policymakers. Traditional data sources alone will not suffice to maintain the role of official statistics in this new world and we must embrace the new data sources that have emerged with the digital transformation.
Statistical misinformation has posed unprecedented challenges to the statistical community. This has further increased the pressure on official statistics to produce data faster and it has made communication and dissemination even more critical: if our data are not visible, people might turn to less accurate sources.
It is more important than ever to have a place where we in official statistics can come together and discuss these issues and many more. The WSC is particularly valuable because it allows us in official statistics to learn not only from each other, but also from academia and the private sector.
For us at Eurostat, the Hague is not far away, and many of us will miss the opportunity to meet old friends and new in “real life”. However, the virtual format of the conference also provides a new opportunity: people who could not have travelled to the WSC in normal times, whether because of childcare commitments, financial constraints or other reasons, can attend from the comfort of their own homes and distance is no barrier.
Emanuele Baldacci, Director of Resources at Eurostat, has attended several previous editions of the conference:
“What I have always found exciting about the ISI WSC is the unique opportunity to get acquainted with the work and the thinking of key statistics players from the public sector, private sector, and academia, from all over the world. Many good ideas for the future can be brought about by this interaction and useful professional networks can be built. This remains a key benefit of this type of conference, even if the engagement happens online.
I look forward to learning about successful innovation work in the areas of methods and use of non-traditional sources, as well as policy applications of statistical models. I am also keen to contribute to the debate by chairing a session on the concrete results of innovation in official statistics and the use of data platforms.
The ISI WSC is also an opportunity to reflect on statistical literacy and capacity-building actions undertaken in different countries. With the EU digital skills agenda featuring very prominently in the political discussion and the need to invest in data literacy to fight misinformation, I look forward to learning from other countries’ experiences about how statistical organisations can help support the digital transformation agenda.”
For Teodora Brandmueller, team leader in regional and urban statistics, this is her first ISI WSC:
“I am curious and looking forward to the congress! I hope that in our session ‘Measuring the Sustainable Development Goals in cities, towns, and rural areas’ we can reach out to colleagues and raise awareness about measuring SDGs in different territories. It will be also an excellent opportunity to network with colleagues within and beyond Europe and within and beyond official statistics. I am particularly looking forward to the sessions on the use of new methods and data sources.”
The virtual format of this year’s congress has allowed us at Eurostat to send more colleagues than ever before, particularly early-career statisticians, for whom this opportunity to hear about new developments and to make connections with people involved in statistics all over the world is very important.
One of these early-career statisticians is Aleksandra Galic, a statistical officer working on regional statistics: “My background is earth and environmental sciences. I arrived in Eurostat from academia, where I worked as a researcher and lecturer in the field of natural sciences and sustainability. I have been to many conferences in the past, but this is my first statistics conference. I am looking forward to learning about current trends in field of statistics and getting to know people working in this field. I am especially looking forward to the sessions concerning official statistics, environmental statistics and statistics relating to the Sustainable Development Goals. I hope I will be able to incorporate this new knowledge into my unit’s work.”
I look forward to seeing many of you in the coming days and wish you all a productive and engaging week.
Director-General of Eurostat (European Commission)