Sta­tis­tics: Re­dis­cov­er­ing Rel­e­vance

We live in a time when in­for­ma­tion is abun­dant and im­me­di­ate.

Malta Independent - - DEBATE & ANALYSIS - Reuben Fenech

The data ser­vices in­dus­try has grown quickly and its di­men­sions are now huge. En­ti­ties that gen­er­ate in­for­ma­tion have mush­roomed and sur­veys have be­come a pop­u­lar way of re­in­forc­ing the mes­sage. National Sta­tis­ti­cal In­sti­tutes (NSIs) now share with oth­ers a space they vir­tu­ally con­trolled un­con­tested for decades. Un­pre­pared for this, and still op­er­at­ing un­der tech­ni­cal con­straints that em­anate from reg­u­la­tion, NSIs have re­lin­quished some of their ter­ri­tory, pow­ers and rel­e­vance.

Within such a multi-tiered set­ting, there­fore, the chal­lenges are real; it is truly a ques­tion of where to start in an en­deav­our to avoid slip­ping into the abyss of ir­rel­e­vance. In a place in­creas­ingly con­sist­ing of mul­ti­ple lev­els of in­for­ma­tion to process, we are prone to base our judge­ment on what comes across as the most in­ter­pretable and eas­i­est to con­sume.

While plot­ting the course to­wards re­dis­cov­ered rel­e­vance, the ex­ter­nal en­vi­ron­ment within which NSIs op­er­ate is a good place to start. It is a changing world and we are liv­ing through a key trans­for­ma­tion: a data rev­o­lu­tion that is clearly shap­ing how in­di­vid­u­als make choices, how en­trepreneurs al­lo­cate cap­i­tal and how gov­ern­ments lead their na­tions.

The complex set of sta­tis­tics for which NSIs are tra­di­tion­ally renowned may be des­tined to be rel­e­gated well down in the scale of pref­er­ence in terms of which data our so­ci­ety opts to con­sume. Data con­sump­tion in this day and age fol­lows trends seen in other con­sumer prod­ucts, where what stim­u­lates the mind is what is most likely to be in de­mand. With the ex­ten­sive us­age of the in­ter­net, easy ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion and the pro­lif­er­a­tion of so­cial me­dia that has added a more in­ter­ac­tive di­men­sion to in­for­ma­tion flows, the num­ber of data con­sumers has in­creased.

It is hence use­ful for an NSI to take a cue from devel­op­ments in con­sumer trends to up­date its range of sta­tis­ti­cal prod­ucts and find means of de­liv­er­ing them in

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