64th ISI World Statistics Congress - Ottawa, Canada

64th ISI World Statistics Congress - Ottawa, Canada

The basic infrastructures of official statistics – challenges, experiences, and opportunities, with a particular focus on the last round of censuses

Category: International Association for Official Statistics (IAOS)


The basic statistical infrastructure comprises the languages, standards, systems, tools, methods, and statistical frames necessary to produce official statistics. This infrastructure can be understood as a set of specific intangible assets of the official statistics system. This infrastructure is of fundamental importance for the functioning of the official statistics system and the credibility of the statistics produced because regardless of the undertaken activities and efforts related to conducting statistical surveys, deficiencies in the infrastructure and weakness of the foundations on which they are based may constitute a significant obstacle to the effective and sustainable achievement of goals. Traditionally, the principles of official statistics adopted by the UN are discussed when debating fundamental issues. However, the success of a statistical system is primarily determined not only by internal factors but equally by its environment, public infrastructure in a broader sense, the quality of public institutions, social cohesion, social ties, the effectiveness of democratic processes, and the quality of human resources. Although less frequently discussed, these issues are of great importance for the functioning of the official statistics system, not only in developing countries. It is worth noting that the official statistics itself is the state's information infrastructure, which brings enormous responsibility and servitude to society. The census forms a particular foundation of the statistical infrastructure. The time after the last wave of censuses encourages the discussion on its course and the implications on the critical infrastructure of official statistics. A new context for these discussions is given by the dynamic development of complex information environments and data ecosystems, the eruption of potential new data sources, and related issues of policy processes aimed at organizing data governance, safeguarding adequate privacy protection, and data processing control. Such a rapidly changing, increasingly complex environment is a multidimensional challenge for official statistics, which must continuously adapt language and activities, absorb new concepts, and redefine the meaning of previous ones. There seem to be, however, not enough discussion about the quality and sustainability of infrastructure and its foundations.

The session aims to discuss these issues through an open exchange of views and discussions. it will bring together speakers from the national statistical offices, academia, and international organizations. We will encourage participants to:

- discuss issues of maturity and professional independence of official statistics systems in tense political contexts;
- share views on the role of the institutional environment of official statistics and its impact on its functioning;
- discuss the recent wave of censuses, focusing mainly on new challenges and achievements for the essential infrastructure for statistical production;
- review progress in enhancing the geospatial dimension of statistical data, focusing on recent developments and challenges;
- discuss the role of experimental research in the development of official statistics
- discuss the use and misuse of data in uncertain economic and social conditions