unctad.org | Harnessing the Data Revolution
Harnessing the Data Revolution
09 September 2019

​At the International Statistics Institute World Congress, in Kuala Lumpur, Steve MacFeely, Head of Statistics at UNCTAD, presented a new paper on the opportunities and risks associated with using unofficial statistics to compile SDG indicators.



Steve MacFeely, Head of Statistics at UNCTAD, presented a paper co-authored with Dr. Bojan Nastav, Director-General of the Slovenian Statistics Office, on the opportunities and risks associated with using unofficial statistics to compile SDG indicators, at a special event organized by the Statistical Journal of the International Association of Official Statistics (SJIAOS) at the International Statistics Institute World Congress, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Drawing inspiration from amateur scientists in the past, Steve MacFeely, pondered whether we perhaps need their help again. “National statisticians must consider switching from a purely production or manufacturing based model to a mixed business model: one combining the manufacture of official statistics with the franchising of production under license” Mr. MacFeely argued.

Steve MacFeely, Head of Statistics at UNCTAD, discussing how statisticians might harness the data revolution
Steve MacFeely, Head of Statistics at UNCTAD, discussing how statisticians might harness the data revolution
 

Continuing, he suggested that “this approach, is scalable beyond the SDGs. The same approach could be applied to official statistics more broadly” and that “the SDG indicators offered a petri dish where a confined experiment could be trialed”.

A controversial topic, the talk was very well attended, and as expected provoked a lot of debate and discussion.

Statistician skills and competency framework
 

The paper “You say you want a [data] revolution: A proposal to use unofficial statistics for the SDG Global Indicator Framework”, is the inaugural paper on the new IAOS discussion platform that was launched at the same event. Commentators are asked to engage in the debate on the website - https://officialstatistics.com/news-blog/can-unofficial-statistics-help-achieve-sustainable-development-goals-sdg-global-indicator

Earlier, working paper versions of “You say you want a [data] revolution: A proposal to use unofficial statistics for the SDG Global Indicator Framework”, were published by UNECE for the Conference of European Statisticians (see: https://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/stats/documents/ece/ces/2019/ECE_CES_2019_34_1907248E.pdf) and by Global Policy Watch: https://www.globalpolicywatch.org/blog/2018/11/02/you-want-a-data-revolution/

A blog was also published by the World Economic Forum: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/01/its-time-for-a-data-revolution/


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