A Bridge between Statistics and Citizens

In an interview with Le Monde (July 6th 2007) Enrico Giovannini, OECD’s Chief Statistician, looks back to the Istanbul World Forum on Measuring and Fostering the Progress of Societies. The interview is about measuring progress, and also about the role of citizens in statistics and how citizens judge of the influence of statistics.

An extract from this interview:

“Qu’avez-vous décidé à Istanbul pour améliorer la mesure du progrès ?

Il ne suffit pas d’améliorer la recherche statistique afin qu’elle prenne en compte la qualité de la vie et les droits de l’homme ni de publier ces chiffres sur Internet. Il faut construire un pont entre ces chiffres et le citoyen. On a demandé aux Européens, en avril 2007, s’ils connaissaient la croissance de leur PIB : plus de la moitié ont répondu négativement. On leur a demandé s’ils pensaient que leurs gouvernements utilisaient les statistiques pour prendre des décisions : “oui”, ont répondu les Nordiques, qui ont le plus confiance dans les chiffres ; “pas tant que ça”, ont répondu Britanniques et Français, plus méfiants.

Je pense qu’on pourrait créer une plate-forme informatique dédiée aux statistiques, un “Wikipédia du progrès” équipé d’un système d’évaluation solide, où les citoyens confronteraient leurs demandes et leurs critiques auprès de spécialistes.
A terme, il serait possible d’obtenir par ce moyen suffisamment de contributions pour faire évoluer les Objectifs du millénaire de lutte contre la pauvreté de l’ONU, indicateurs pour l’instant réservés aux pays en développement.”

On OECD.org there are some informations about this wiki idea:

“Among various ideas under study, the OECD is thinking of creating an Internet site based on Web 2.0 “wiki” technologies for the presentation and discussion of international, national and local initiatives aimed at developing indicators of societal progress. By making indicators accessible to citizens all over the world through dynamic graphics and other analytical tools, this initiative would aim to stimulate discussion based on solid and comparable statistical information about what progress actually means. ”

The proposal to create a bridge between statistics and citizens with a “wikipedia du progrès” would be a next step integrating statistics in Web 2.0. … When and where?

There is much more building bridges between statistics and citizens. On 12th of July Enrico Giovannini will launch an online discussion on OECD.org

“Can we trust official statistics? Do they give us a true picture of how societies are changing? Enrico Giovannini, the OECD’s Chief Statistician, will answer your questions on the role and future of statistics during a live online debate between 14.00 and 16.00 Paris time ( 12.00 to 14.00 GMT) on Thursday 12 July. You can send questions or comments on this issue in English or French in advance, or during the debate, to ask@oecd.org. We will post a selection of questions together with answers in English. You can also email your comments on these answers.”

4 thoughts on “A Bridge between Statistics and Citizens

  1. This is definitely the right discussion for us to be having around statistics: the importance of meaningful dissemination among citizens. It’s about time that we create better ways for regular people to look at, interact with, and ask questions about official statistics.

    It seems like a few tools are already trying to do this. You might want to check out Many Eyes, a web site by IBM that let’s you create really cool interactive visualizations of data and discuss your findings.

    Jon Udell has created an amazing screencast of the visualizations he has created on Many Eyes, where he discusses the “perceived wave of crime” in his hometown. I’d love to see more of this.

  2. Official statistics for decision support among citzens and institutions is coming to my mind. Wikiprogress – does this mean a wikpedia about statistics?

    To collect all the knowledge about e .g statistical metadata and organise them in a systematic way with contributions from all the experts and in communication with the statistics users – that would be progress.

    Was there any discussion about that at OECD Forum? Who will make the first move in that direction? OECD? Eurostat? UN? I get 18 hits on wikpedia AND metadata at the site of OECD! When can we have a look at the first protoype?


  3. Excellent! We need a dashboard for spaceship earth.

    We are hosting a conference June 1-4 in Burlington, Vermont — GNH 2010: Changing what we measure from Wealth to Well-Being. We are launching a Gross National Happiness information and best practices movement in the USA. The conference will give us an opportunity to discuss research on indicators in the progressive laboratory of Vermont and to explore best practices for business, NGO’s and Governments to implement social progress indicators in their operations and planning. Check our website for information on the conference (there will be a call for papers in November) and we have started a repository of links to useful information. Please give us information on other sites that we should link to.
    Also there is a conference in Brazil, November 20-23 the 5th International Gross National Happiness Conference — the website is http://www.felicidadeinternabruta.org.br

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