Building Trust in Data and Statistics

Shaida Badiee at UN World Data Forum: …What do we want for a 2030 data ecosystem?

Hope to achieve: A world where data are part of the DNA and culture of decision-making, used by all and valued as an important public good. A world where citizens trust the systems that produce data and have the skills and means to use and verify their quality and accuracy. A world where there are safeguards in place to protect privacy, while bringing the benefits of open data to all. In this world, countries value their national statistical systems, which are working independently with trusted partners in the public and private sectors and citizens to continuously meet the changing and expanding demands from data users and policy makers. Private sector data generators are generously sharing their data with public sector. And gaps in data are closing, making the dream of “leaving no one behind” come true, with SDG goals on the path to being met by 2030.

Hope to avoid: A world where large corporations control the bulk of national and international data and statistics with only limited sharing with the public sector, academics, and citizens. The culture of every man for himself and who pays, wins, dominates data sharing practices. National statistical systems are under-resourced and under-valued, with low trust from users, further weakening them and undermining their independence from political interference and their ability to control quality. The divide between those who have and those who do not have access, skills, and the ability to use data for decision-making and policy has widened. Data systems and their promise to count the uncounted and “leave no one behind” are falling behind due to low capacity and poor standards and institutions, and the hope of the 2030 agenda is fading.

With this vision in mind, are we on the right path? An optimist would say we are closer to the data ecosystem that we want to achieve. However, there are also some examples of movement in the wrong direction. There is no magic wand to make our wish come true, but a powerful enabler would be building trust in data and statistics. Therefore, this should be included as a goal in all our data strategies and action plans.

Here are some important building blocks underlying trust in data and statistics:

  1. Building strong organizational infrastructure, governance, and partnerships;
  2. Following sound data standards and principles for production, sharing, interoperability, and dissemination; and
  3. Addressing the last mile in the data value chain to meet users’ needs, create value with data, and ensure meaningful impacts…(More)”.