What are they doing …. ?

… and how do statistical institutions present what they do?

In times of fake news and austerity measures, statistical offices are feeling more and more the urge to orientate the public about themselves and the usefulness and necessity of trustworthy statistics.

But how to proceed?

Public relations specialists know countless ways to get messages to the target groups. A traditional and usually quite boring way are annual reports. They’re usually just an obligatory thing and treated accordingly.

Annual reports as ambassadors for public statistics

Is this still a quite boring lecture under the changing circumstances mentioned above? Let’s look at a few examples.

 

#1 European Official Statistics

The European Statistical Governance Advisory Board publishes the report, which focuses on fake news and trust issues. It’s  mainly a control report with recommendations to be re-evaluated next year.

Not everyone’s reading but with some interesting facts about the European statistical infrastructure.

ESGAB-Titel-2017

‘ … this year’s Report focuses on the importance of good governance to maintain and increase trust in official statistics, ensuring appropriate access to administrative and privately-held data, and the practical challenges of coordinating NSSs.
Chapter 1 looks first at the challenge of maintaining and enhancing trust in official statistics when there is conflicting information provided by non-official sources or when statistical indicators fail to relate to citizens’ actual experiences. Access to administrative records and privately-held data is then examined, highlighting some of the difficulties encountered by NSIs and the need to ensure that the transposition of the new Regulation on General Data Protection into national law does not hinder access to data for statistical purposes. Finally, the challenge of coordination within NSSs is discussed, particularly in relation to ONAs.
Chapter 2 provides ESGAB’s overview of the implementation of the Code of Practice, ..
Chapter 3 reviews ESGAB’s activities over its first nine years, … ‘ (p.10)
ESGAB-Recommendations-2017
p.8

Glossary
European Statistics
Code of Practice (‘the Code’)
The European Statistics Code of Practice sets
the standards for developing, producing and
disseminating European statistics. It builds on
a common definition of quality in statistics used
in the European Statistical System, composed of
national statistical authorities and Eurostat. ….
European Statistical Governance
Advisory Board (ESGAB, ‘the Board’)
ESGAB provides an independent overview of
the implementation of the Code of Practice. It
seeks to enhance the professional independence,
integrity and accountability of the European
Statistical System, key elements of the Code,
and the quality of European statistics …..
European Statistical System (ESS)
The European Statistical System is a
partnership between the European Union’s
statistical authority, i.e. the Commission
(Eurostat), the National Statistical Institutes
(NSIs) and Other National Authorities (ONAs) ….

Some interesting facts given in this report:

gdp-EU

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#2 UK

UK is of a similar type to the EU. Somewhat more systematic, with clear performance targets and evaluated indicators …. and tons of financial data.

‘This year has been a challenging one for those of us working in official statistics. Numbers were very much in the news in the run-up to the EU referendum and since. Examples of bad use of numbers and misrepresentation of statistics can cast a shadow over the validity and integrity of evidence. However, information that can be accepted and used with confidence is essential to good decision making by governments, businesses and individuals.’ …’ (John Pullinger,p.4)
‘The 2007 Act requires that the Authority produces a report annually to Parliament and the devolved legislatures on what it has done during the year, what it has found during the year and what it intends to do during the next financial year. This report fulfills that responsibility.’ (p.9)
‘STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES
To achieve its mission, over five years the Authority will focus on five perspectives:
a helpful, professional, innovative, efficient and capable statistical service will, we believe, serve the public good and help our nation make better decisions.’ (p.9)
.
‘KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS
The Authority’s Business Plan includes a number of Performance Metrics through which we monitor performance. Our performance against these indicators is summarised in the table below. It is important to note our targets are always used to stretch performance ..’ (p. 9)
And some interesting facts:

 

#3 Sweden

Sweden reports concisely on a few central goals and with the obligatory information on the organisation and infrastructure.

‘Statistics Sweden plays a key role in public infrastructure. Its task is to develop, produce and disseminate official and other government statistics. The Official Statistics Act sets out a number of criteria concerning statistical quality, in which statistical relevance is a top priority.’ (Joakim Stymne, p. 4)

‘Punctuality in publishing remained high and amounted to 99 percent. No corrections that were considered serious were made to the published statistics during the year, and there were fewer internal error reports than in 2016.’ (p. 7)


‘During 2017, Statistics Sweden has studied how its customers and users view the agency and its products in different ways.’ (p. 10)

#4 Switzerland

Switzerland differs from other reports in two ways:
– The report shows not only the activities of the Office, but also the state of the country according to various topics (the milestones of the multi-annual statistical programme, and at the same time a small Statistical Yearbook).
– And it is very personal, responsible persons behind the statistics become visible.

German and French only

‘Die erste Halbzeit der Legislatur ist um und damit auch die ersten zwei Jahre des statistischen Mehrjahresprogramms 2016–2019. Die darin festgelegten Ziele und Schwerpunkte bilden die Leitlinien für die Arbeit der Bundesstatistik. Die für das Jahr 2017 geplanten Meilensteine konnten erfolgreich umgesetzt werden. … … der Auftrag der Bundesstatistik wie folgt zusammengefasst: «Im Zentrum des Auftrags der Bundesstatistik stehen die Erstellung und die Vermittlung von nutzergerechten Informationen zu wichtigen Lebensbereichen unserer Gesellschaft. Diese Informationen dienen unter anderem der Planung und Steuerung zentraler Politikbereiche, deren Stand und Entwicklung mit Hilfe der statistischen Informationen beobachtet und beurteilt werden können.” (Georges-Simon Ulrich, p.5)

The state of statistics in the topic areas: e.g. Population

And the targets for the future: focal points and priority developments in the coming year:

Some interesting facts about structure and publishing

Staff

Publishing

.

# 5 Germany

Germany is taking a quite different approach: the annual report is more like a scientific magazine. With interviews and contributions to focal topics.

D-title

‘ People are being guided more by their emotions and less and less by facts – this is how we might sum up the post-truth debate which reached its hitherto climax last year, culminating in “postfaktisch” (post-factual, or post-truth) being chosen as the German Word of the Year 2016. …
I hope that all of the other topics dealt with in this report provide you with a good insight into all matters figure-related and that, in so doing, we can enhance your trust and confidence in official statistics.’ (Dieter Sarreither, p.3).
.
The table of contents shows how this report is designed as a magazine
.
Some interesting information about the office
.
This report also gives itself a personal touch and shows the responsible management personnel

.

# Conclusion

Annual reports are certainly not the most effective way of informing the public about the activities and importance of statistical institutions. They must be approached with other measures; they must be embedded in PR measures. Then they can – especially if they are well made – contribute a lot to understanding official statistics.

 

 

 

 

 

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IMAODBC 2016: And the winner is…

The Best Presentation Award of the International Marketing and Output Database Conference IMAODBC 2016 in Gozd Martuljek, Slovenia goes to Susanne Hagenkort-Rieger and her team from DESTATIS (Statistisches Bundesamt, Germany).

In her presentation Susanne highlighted the importance of web search statistics  and why intuition when emphasizing selected statistical data is often not sufficient. To achieve relevance and accessibility of most popular statistical data we should not ignore what the web search data say.

a12fd9e2e59120fadd5cfb91863759d1

Presentation is available at the IMAODBC 2016 website…

A few facts about IMAODBC 2016 as presented in the second best presentation by Corey Jenkins, USDA – Foreign Agricultural Service, U.S.A.:

IMAODBC-2016-ig.jpg

 

 

Basic Needs and Delighters

How to find out user needs? Which method to choose?

These questions find an innovative answer in an article from Ilka Willand (of Destatis, the German Statistical Office) published in number 31 of IAOS’ Statistical Journal

Beyond traditional customer surveys: The reputation analysis
Authors: Willand, Ilka
DOI: 10.3233/sji-150866
Journal: Statistical Journal of the IAOS, vol. 31, no. 2, 2015

Here a short version with pieces taken from this article:

Abstract

‘An important strategic goal of Destatis is to continuously collect information about the customer satisfaction and the perception of important stakeholders and target groups. We conduct frequent customer surveys since 2007. But not all important stakeholders and target groups are necessarily registered customers. To learn more about their demands a reputation analysis was conducted in 2013 in cooperation with a market researcher. To determine a manageable frame for the study, we focused on three target groups: Respondents (households and enterprises), fast multipliers (online and data journalists) and young multipliers (young academics). The analysis was mainly based on the “Kano-Model”, a methodological approach, which is often used in quality management and product development. In the following article the survey design and the main results will be presented.’

Basic needs and Delighters

‘The most important category is the basic needs. Basic needs are taken for granted and they are typically unspoken. If they are fulfilled, they do not increase satisfaction. If they are not fulfilled, they will cause dissatisfaction.
Delighters are unexpected features that make customers happy. They do not necessarily cause dissatisfaction when not fulfilled, because they are not expected.’

 Three Target Groups in Focus

‘To determine a manageable frame we focused on three target groups who became increasingly important for the work of the Federal Statistical Office in the past years:
a) Respondents (households, enterprises)
b) Fast multipliers (online and datajournalists)
c) Young multipliers (young graduates and PhD students of social and economic sciences).

‘Target groups were asked for their basic needs and delighters concerning data search, data use and the reporting process.
On a scale from 0 (very bad) to 7 (very good) the reputation values are 5.3 for the fast and the young multipliers, 4.7 for the households and 4.6 for the enterprises.’

2015-06-06_Destatis-resultsgaph

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Respondents

‘Most important basic needs and delighters: Especially for the responding enterprises it is a basic need important to get survey results after the survey is completed. A telephone service is a basic need especially for the bigger companies and the households to support the reporting process.
It is a delighter for enterprises to respond only online. This is currently being implemented in Germany, regardless of the results of the survey.’

.

Fast Multipliers

Most important basic needs and delighters: Fast multipliers expect more than databases and datasets. For almost every second a telephone-support is a basic need. This is quite interesting because there are many internal discussions at Destatis to give up that service for the journalists. Also they expect to find data they are looking for as fast as possible and for free on the internet. After an average of 14 minutes of searching on the Destatis website they will contact the information service if they are not able to find what they are looking for. To satisfy their basic need to find data as quick as possible we have to improve the search engine.
Most of our data is already available for free. Interactive charts would delight most of the journalists. Application programming interfaces (APIs) to grab huge amounts of primary data are the delighter especially for the data journalists.’

.

Young Multipliers

Most important basic needs and delighters: There are intersections between the young and the fast multipliers. Young multipliers also want data as fast as possible and for free on the internet. Most of the PhD students expect detailed methodological descriptions related to the datasets. What are the delighters? Surprisingly one half of the young academics mentioned examples on how to read tables and charts as a delighter. Similar to the fast multipliers we have overestimated their statistical knowledge in the past. Already more than one third of them see the opportunity to search for data via smartphone or tablet as a delighter. That means we have to offer more appropriate publication formats in the future.’

.

Results at a Glance

2015-06-06_Destatis-results

 See also

Ilka Willand got the award at IMAODBC 2013 for presenting this reputation study. See he slides at https://blogstats.wordpress.com/2013/09/28/imaodbc-2013-and-the-winner-is/

A new animated population pyramid for Germany 1950–2050

Today Destatis released a new projection of Germany’s population by 2060 accompanied by an all new animated population pyramid. It is the first population pyramid that really moves upwards.

poppyr-mobile

In case the above doesn’t display in your preferred language, here are the distinct links for english, french, spanish, russian, german.

The pasted screenshot is the mobile version you will automatically see on small screens. There is much more to explore on larger displays, as birthyears are labeled directly, you can lock an outline for comparison and there are four different variants to choose from, so that you can judge the outcome with different assumptions.

Apart from starting the animation with the (Play) button you can navigate through the years by mousewheel, left/right cursor keys or on touch devices directly by swiping up or down on the pyramid.

Thematic Maps Revisited

A month ago ONS did an excellent job in hosting The Graphical Web 2014 conference in Winchester/UK under the theme “Visual Storytelling”. You should check the summary at the conference website and go from there.

It was a great event to meet people from a variety of backgrounds, e.g. academia, the media and of course NSIs (Statistics Norway, Statistics Austria to name just a few).

All presentations were taped and are currently released as they are processed. Let me take this opportunity to pitch my own presentation of the German Census Map

I guess we’ll be talking about this conference for a while and there are many presentations worth watching already posted. For example Alan Smith from the ONS shows us why learning to programm graphics is a worthwhile endeavour for statisticians who wouldn’t regard themselves as programmers.

His presentation discusses the practicalities of developing that capability in house as a key part of the corporate skills agenda. It borrows heavily from examples and lessons learned from the 7 year lifespan of the ONS Data Visualisation Centre.

IMAODBC 2013: And the winner is …

The Best-Presentation Award of the International Marketing and Output Database Conference IMAODBC 2013 in Neuchâtel/Switzerland goes to Ilka Willand from the  German Federal Statistical Office destatis.

Ilka presented the reputation analysis 2013 of destatis which aims at getting information about  target groups for statistical information – also the ones not reached (yet).

Target Groups

There’s a new target group approach:

2013-09-28_Willand-targetgroupsFirst results (more to come later)

First results of the not yet finished survey show how these groups search statistical information and how they want to access this information (green: preferred behaviour, red: not preferred behaviour).
Interesting: In Germany social media are considered to be for private use only, not for accessing official statistics .. :

2013-09-28_Willand-firstresukts02.

2013-09-28_Willand-firstresukts03Here is the full presentation (link)

2013-09-28_Willand-title

Analysing networks

The Berliner Morgenpost (Julius Troeger) presents a visually beautiful example of network analysis. It’s the twitter traffic of 61 members of the Berlin parliament with  people outside the parliament .

The 61 members were in contact with 3000 users (blue points) and sent 60000 tweets. Persons (blue points) in the middle of the graph had the most intensive contact with the members of parliament (orange, green, black according to party membership).

It’s an interesting example of datajournalism. But it’s far from giving qualitative insights: Which topics are hot? Which impacts has this use of short-message communication on forming opinions and decisions? A huge field!

An open source tool for network analysis is gephi, ‘a tool for people that have to explore and understand graphs …. a complementary tool to traditional statistics, as visual thinking with interactive interfaces is now recognized to facilitate reasoning‘.

It’s not often (if ever) used in official statistics where network analysis is not very frequent (true?).