What is the future of official statistics in the Big Data era?

19 January 2015 18:00 - 19:30 GMT+00
Public event
Streamed live online
  • Chair: Denise Lievesley (Dean of Faculty, King's College)
  • Kenneth Cukier (Data Editor at The Economist)
  • Haishan Fu (Director of Development Data Group at the World Bank)
  • Alex ‘Sandy’ Pentland (Professor at MIT and Academic Director of Data-Pop Alliance)
  • Nuria Oliver (Scientific Director at Telefonica)
  • John Pullinger (UK National Statistician) 



Digital data are increasingly changing the shape of our world. At the same time, attention is also being paid to the woeful state of development data – we know the least about those who are most lacking, and people often lack the information and capacities they need to bring about change. Unsurprisingly this has led to a focus on how we can harness the potential of the new and rapidly evolving digital landscape to meet some of these acute data gaps, and more profoundly, to improve policymaking and citizen empowerment. But while some insist that Big Data may provide an opportunity to ‘leapfrog’ statistical systems in developing countries, others argue that Big Data is largely Big Hype, and that traditional statistical concerns and methods limit its applications for official statistics. And new concerns altogether are emerging including around privacy and ownership of personal data.

This public panel discussion is organised by the Overseas Development Institute, Data-Pop Alliance and the Royal Statistical Society. It brings together leading experts who will explore the potential of Big Data to transform national statistical systems as well as concerns about the reliability and representativeness of these data, and over ethics, privacy, and the blurring of lines between formal and informal data sources.