Welcome message from Trevor Sutton
Welcome to the first Asia-Pacific Modernization Newsletter produced by the Strategic Advisory Body for the Modernization of Statistical Production and Services in Asia and the Pacific (SAB-AP) and the Modernization Working Group on Production, Methods and Standards (MWG). This newsletter is designed to be an easy way to access information and resources about the regional and global work on modernization, in particular tailored to the needs of Asia and the Pacific. It will also tell you about the work of the SAB-AP and the MWG.
The SAB-AP was established to bring together heads of statistical organizations committed to promoting modernization within the region. There has been a great amount of enthusiasm from the SAB-AP members over the last several months.
The SAB-AP is an essential group for helping the region to transform. We will be commissioning a range of work, including raising awareness, and helping to mobilize financial and human resources. We will also be a regional voice - representing the Asia-Pacific region in global strategic bodies.
On a more practical level – we have brought together a working group of experts, the MWG, who works to:
a. Create promotional materials with a regional context;
b. Gather and develop use cases of standards (such as GSBPM, GSIM, DDI, SDMX and CSPA) and identify champions for the standards; and
c. Link modernization with other regional initiatives, such as NSDS.
The SAB-AP has a demanding work program ahead of it – but it will deliver strong benefits for all statistical organizations in the region.
Mr Trevor Sutton
Deputy Australian Statistician and Chair of the SAB-AP
Modernization efforts in Asia and the Pacific
Strategic Advisory Board for the Modernization of Statistical Production and Services in Asia and the Pacific (SAB-AP)
The need to modernize is well recognized globally and in the Asia-Pacific region. The creation of a more adaptive and cost-effective information management environment, the key results of the modernization of statistical production and services, was outlined by the ESCAP Committee on Statistics at its second session as one of the overarching strategic goals. To accelerate progress towards the achievement of this strategic goal the Committee on Statistics, at its third session, decided to establish a high-level strategic body and an expert community.
The high-level strategic body, the SAB-AP, will raise awareness and advocate on the importance and urgency of the modernization issue in the region. Collaboration at a regional level is of vital importance, especially considering the ambition, scope, complexity and long-term aspects of programmes to modernize statistical production and services. There are at least three themes in the work of SAB-AP. These are outlined below:
- Testing global modernization solutions in the regional context
- Influencing global modernization work
- Creating modernization solutions for regional priority areas
The challenges facing statistical organisations are too big for individual statistical organisations to tackle on their own. In order for this vision to be successful, producers of official statistics can and should work together as an “industry”, to address these shared challenges and make the most of new opportunities.
SAB-AP will need to be active in mobilizing financial and human resources to achieve their goals.
Members of the SAB-AP are heads of NSOs or senior officials from: Australia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Samoa, Singapore and Viet Nam.
The Modernization Working Group on Production, Methods and Standards (MWG)
The SAB-AP established the Modernization Working Group on Production, Methods and Standards (MWG) in mid-2014. The MWG has been created to implement the strategy and priorities of the SAB-AP. The consists of technical-level experts from Australia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Viet Nam. It has been meeting on a regular basis (bi-weekly) over a video-conference and has produced several outputs (described below).
The questionnaire aimed to gauge modernization readiness of countries in Asia and the Pacific, and results will be used to support the creation of an advocacy strategy.The results of the questionnaire and some research undertaken by the MWG highlighted a number of opportunities for the SAB-AP to influence modernization work in the region.
The main of the modernization questionnaire results are summarized below:
- Eighteen countries have national strategies which are either expired or will expire in the coming two years. There is a great opportunity to influence these countries to include work on modernization in their next national strategies.
- The level of knowledge of global modernization agenda was found to be good at senior levels, but decreased in middle and more junior levels.
- A modernization champion is a person who promotes modernization within an organisation. Only seven countries had identified a champion. The identification of a champion within NSOs is important to ensure that there is a focus on modernization activities. There is an opportunity to describe the role of such a champion and encourage countries in the region to identify one.
- Many countries expressed a desire to know more about the standards (GSBPM, GSIM, CSPA, DDI and SDMX). It would be a “quick win” to re-purpose existing material and circulate it to increase regional knowledge.
- Budget and capability (in terms of staff numbers and skills) in the organisations were noted as barriers. These are key areas to focus on in the advocacy strategy.
The modernization questionnaire was circulated among the NSOs in Asia-Pacific in October 2014. We would hope for more NSOs to fill in the questionnaire and help shaping the work on modernization in Asia-Pacific. The modernization questionnaire can be found here and all NSOs in the region are welcome to submit their responses to ESCAP Statistics Division (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Information on standards for modernization
GSBPM use cases in Asia and the Pacific
The MWG started to look at developing case study on the application of the Generic Statistical Business Process Model (GSBPM) and identifying other case studies from other regions that might be of interest for the users in Asia-Pacific.
In the initial phase the MWG produced two GSBPM use case studies that look at the application of GSBPM in the NSOs in Malaysia and Viet Nam. The presentations can be found below.
Application of GSBPM in Asia-Pacific
Based on the modernization questionnaire the following four countries indicated that they have implemented the GSBPM:
- The international version: Armenia (across all statistical programmes); Azerbaijan (in some statistical programmes - household and business collections); Malaysia (in some statistical programmes - household and business collections); and Viet Nam (across all statistical programmes).
- A local version of the GSBPM: Australia; Cambodia; India; Japan; Korea; Northern Mariana Islands; Russian Federation; Singapore; and Turkey.
Many of these applications of GSBPM could be interesting to NSOs in Asia-Pacific; hence, if you have any interesting material you would like to present, we would be very happy to hear from you. Please contact Marko Javorsek (email@example.com) from ESCAP Statistics Division.
The GSBPM describes and defines the set of business processes needed to produce official statistics. It provides a standard framework and harmonised terminology to help statistical organisations to modernise their statistical production processes, as well as to share methods and components.
The GSIM is a reference framework of information objects, which enables generic descriptions of the definition, management and use of data and metadata throughout the statistical production process. It provides a set of standardized, consistently described information objects, which are the inputs and outputs in the design and production of statistics.
CSPA builds on existing standards such as the GSBPM and the GSIM to create an agreed set of common principles and standards designed to promote greater interoperability within and between statistical organizations. It provides the “industry architecture” for official statistics.
DDI is an initiative to create an international standard for describing data from the social, behavioral, and economic sciences. DDI supports the entire research data life cycle. DDI metadata accompanies and enables data conceptualization, collection, processing, distribution, discovery, analysis, repurposing, and archiving.
SDMX is an initiative to foster standards for the exchange of statistical information.
Big data for official statistics
What are big data?
Based on a virtual sprint organized under the HLG/UNECE project it is proposed that statistical organizations regard big data as:
"Data that is difficult to collect, store or process within the conventional systems of statistical organizations. Either, their volume, velocity, structure or variety requires the adoption of new statistical software processing techniques and/or IT infrastructure to enable cost-effective insights to be made."
For understanding of big data it is important to understand their sources. The basic big data typology can be based on three types of data sources that can be viewed as big data:
- Social networks (human-sourced information)
- Traditional business systems (process-mediated data)
- Internet of things (machine-generated data)
More on big data in official statistics can be found at: Big Data in Official Statistics
International Conference on Big Data for Official Statistics
The International Conference on Big Data for Official Statistics took place in Beijing during 28-30 October 2014. The Conference was organized by the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) and the National Bureau of Statistics of China (NBS), and gathered 112 participants from 27 countries, 9 international organizations, private business and academia. The Conference served as a platform for exchange of information on big data initiatives, including experiments that are being undertaken around the World using various big data sources (mobile phones, satellite imagery and twitter data). More information on the conference can be found at: http://unstats.un.org/unsd/trade/events/2014/Beijing/
Global Working Group on Big Data for Official Statistics (GWG)
The United Nations Statistical Commission at its 45th session discussed the topic of big data and modernization of statistical systems. The Commission expressed the need to further investigate the sources, challenges and areas of use of big data for official statistics at the global level, especially with respect to the circumstances of developing countries and the link to the post-2015 development agenda and the data revolution initiative. The Commission agreed to create a Global Working Group on Big Data for Official Statistics (GWG).
Immediately after the International Conference on Big Data for Official Statistics,the GWG held its first meeting to discuss priorities and develop a work plan for 2015. It was agreed that big data in developing countries should be the focus of the work of the GWG. Members decided to set-up eight task teams on: Linking Big Data and SDGs; Training, skills and capacity building; Advocacy and Communication; Satellite Imagery; Access and Partnerships; Cross-cutting issues; Mobile Phone Data; Social Media.
There are six members of the GWG from Asia-Pacific: Australia (also member of SAB-AP), Bangladesh, China, Indonesia (also member of SAB-AP), Pakistan (also member of SAB-AP) and the Philippines; in addition also ESCAP secretariat and SIAP are members of the GWG.