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)
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‘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

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# 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

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# 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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Look at the Elections

18 October 2015

On October 18, 2015, Swiss voters elect a new Parliament for the next four years.

snip_201510181systemSource: https://www.bk.admin.ch/

More about Swiss elections here

For the National Council (200 members), 3,802 candidates and more than 22 political parties take part.

And the winners are …

The polling stations closed at 12 AM. The results arrive canton by canton and are presented in an interactive visualisation – minute by minute.

snip_201510181.overview

Results as of 5 PM

By clicking one of the symbols, the details for a canton appear.

snip_201510181detail

The results are updated in a database, and a script generates a visualisation on the spot. An easy way to follow the elections!

It’s the Statistical Atlas of the Federal Statistical Office that enables this presentation. And it’s no longer Adobe Flash needed to do it ;-).

Elections, visual

2015-10-02_GEMEINDEN

On October 18, 2015 Swiss voters will elect a new Parliament for the next four years. There are some very useful and also beautiful visual tools that help voters to get informed about developments in the political landscape and about candidates.

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Background: The Swiss Political System

2015-10-02_parliamentThe full picture of Switzerland’s political institutions and executive authorities can be found in a yearly updated official brochure (the page above is part of it)

2015-10-02_parliamentcoverSee also the Official Website (Federal elections of 18 October 2015) and:

The website of the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), FSO topic: elections (German and French only)

 

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Let’s have a look at some of these visual and interactive tools.

 


Find Your Candidates

With interactive tools, one answers questions to define one’s position on the political spectrum and to generate suggestions for candidates to vote for.

Tools from smartvote or vimentis exist for the National Council (200 members and 3,802 candidates) and the Council of States (46 members and 161 candidates).

For smartvote about 80 to 90 percent of the candidates have filled in a questionnaire.

2015-10-02_smartvoteThis questionnaire helps defining their political profile, a smartspider.

‘The smartspider presents a political profile based on the agreement about eight topics/aims. A value of 100 represents a strong agreement, a value of 0 a strong disagreement.’

2015-10-02_candidateIn answering the same questionnaire a voter defines his one profile that is matched with the candidates’. In the end, he gets his own smartspider and suggestions for candidates in his constituency. The more questions a voter answers, the more precise his voting advice will be.

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Political Shift in Communes 1981 to 2014 – year by year

Lean Swiss communes more towards the left or the right, are they more conservative or progressive?

‘Based on the result of every single popular vote since 1983. The Somoto Research Institute together with the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC, swissinfo.ch’s parent company) has used the data to find this out.’ A quite complex interactive visualisation depicts this for types of communes and every single commune.

 

2015-10-02_shift.

 


Party Preferences in the Communes

11 elections (1971 to 2011) for the Swiss National Council show how 2345 communes changed their political preferences during these 40 years. The  SRF Data Team (@srfdata) created a visualisation out of tons of data (in German only)

2015-10-02_GEMEINDENAfter selecting a political party and a commune the map of Switzerland shows how this commune changed its attitude towards the chosen party. Hovering over the map gives the facts of all other communes for the chosen party.

2015-10-02_GEMEINDEN-POSCHIAVO timeline Great!

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Interactive Political Atlas

And not to forget the very rich interactive Political Atlas presented by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office (FSO).

Elections to the National Council can be found from 1919 (!) to today. And also votations about innumerable topics are shown starting 1866 (!!). Have a look (with flash enabled).

2015-10-02_POlitAtlas.

 


And not enough yet

How did national counselors vote in parliament? (in German, by SRF Data)

2015-10-02_Abstimmungen.

Do you like a Quiz … and learn about Swiss political parties?

How well do you know Swiss politics? (by SRF Data)

 

Forgotten something? Sure! There is so much activity in the visualisation scene in Switzerland …

 

 

 

DigiPub

Mid-December 2014 Statistics Switzerland launched its first digital publication for tablets (iOs. Android) and (and!) browser, in French and German. The name for this publishing category is ‘DigiPub‘.

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In App Store and Google Play

DigiPubs are provided via the SwissStats App available on Apple Store and Google Play (Windows to come later ).

2015-07-17_storesApp2015-07-16-digipubshpde..

2015-07-17_storesPlay2015-07-16-digipubshplayde.

In the browser 2015-07-17_webviewer.

The challenge: Storytelling in times of tablets

Storytelling in the time of tablets and mobile people performs in a new field.
The idea and the message are old – let‘s call it the book paradigm.
But it‘s a book in new clothes. New aspects must be taken into account: new possibilities, skills, tools and processes.

 

.folio

After evaluation, the choice for a performant and sustainable publishing instrument fell on: .folio, an open format, part of Adobe‘s Digital Publishing Suite DPS.

.folio provides:

  • Standardised navigation
  • Wide range of presentation possibilities
  • Integration of internet content
  • Runs on most platforms, also browsers
  • Publication in the major stores
  • Production based on layout programs, editing systems or web content management systems
  • Open format (ZIP archive with PDF, HTML, XML inside).

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 Rethink publication !

Electronic publication offers everything needed to make a story appealing. But this means: Rethink publication!

Authors and also publication specialists (publishers, visualisers, layout designers) are challenged

  • in terms of concept with regard to the content that is to be communicated
  • in terms of the presentation due to the possibilities that the medium is opening up
  • in terms of collaboration with specialists.

New ways of working, processes and also changing job descriptions are the result and necessary.

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The Concept

The whole story about choosing and developing DigiPubs is in the following presentation:

2015-02-19_dotfolioDownload presentation (format: Powerpoint): Dotfolio.pptx

Download presentation (format: PDF): dotfolio.pdf

 

 

100 Years

Comparing statistical visualizations over a period of 100 years is quite rare. The newly published Atlas of the Swiss Federal Statistical Office offers just this possibility.

1914

100 years ago Statistics Switzerland published a Graphic-Statistical Atlas. It was a wonderful visualization of dozens of topics and developments. All the diagrams and maps were hand-made and of superb quality.

Atlas1914

2015

In order to honor this great work, Statistics Switzerland did it again. A facsimile of the old Atlas is now accompanied by quite the same diagrams and maps but filled wth data from our century. With this technique, a visual overview of changes during the last century becomes possible and gives fascinating insights.

Atlas2014mak

The Atlas is available in Geman and French at http://www.bfs.admin.ch/bfs/portal/de/index/news/publikationen.html?publicationID=6327

Accidents

1901-1910 original visualization

Atlasunfaelle1900.

2001-2010 updated visualization

atlasunfaelle2000.

Births

1901-1910 original visualization

Atlasgeburten1900.

2001-2010 updated visualization

Atlasgeburten2000

Open Data Index

There are lots of indexes.
The most famous one may be the  Index Librorum Prohibitorum  listing books prohibited by the cathoilic church. It contained eminent scientists and intellectuals (see the list in Wikipedia) and was abolished after more than 400 years in 1966 only.

Open Data Index

One index everybody would like to be registered in and this with a high rank is the Open Data Index.

‘An increasing number of governments have committed to open up data, but how much key information is actually being released? …. Which countries are the most advanced and which are lagging in relation to open data? The Open Data Index has been developed to help answer such questions by collecting and presenting information on the state of open data around the world – to ignite discussions between citizens and governments.’

2013-10-29_odindex-overall

‘The Open Data Index is an initiative of the Open Knowledge Foundation based on contributions from open data advocates and experts around the world. …. The Open Data Index is a community-based effort initiated and coordinated by the Open Knowledge Foundation with participation from many different groups and individuals. The Open Data Census, upon which the Open Data Index is based, was launched in April 2012 to coincide with the OGP meeting in Brasilia.’
See also https://blogstats.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/open-data-census/

‘The 2013 Open Data Index launches just before the Open Government Partnership summit in London, at a time when governments and civil society meet to make commitments, monitor progress, and plan for greater open government and transparency around the world.’ (more).

Country Comparison

2013-10-29_odindex

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Country Details: Switzerland

2013-10-29_odindexCH

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What criteria matters in the assessment of the datasets?’

‘When submitting a dataset, there is a list of questions to answer about the availability and openness of the datasets. These answers appear in the Country overview page for each country:

Question Details Weighting
Does the data exist? Does the data exist at all? The data can be in any form (paper or digital, offline or online etc). If it is not, then all the other questions are not answered. 5
Is data in digital form? This question addresses whether the data is in digital form (stored on computers or digital storage) or if it only in, for example, paper form. 5
Publicly available? This question addresses whether the data is “public”. This does not require it to be freely available, but does require that someone outside of the government can access it in some form (examples include if the data is available for purchase, if it exist as PDFs on a website that you can access, if you can get it in paper form – then it is public). If a freedom of information request or similar is needed to access the data, it is not considered public. 5
Is the data available for free? This question addresses whether the data is available for free or if there is a charge. If there is a charge, then that is stated in the comments section. 15
Is the data available online? This question addresses whether the data is available online from an official source. In the cases that this is answered with a ‘yes’, then the link is put in the URL field below. 5
Is the data machine readable? Data is machine readable if it is in a format that can be easily processed by a computer. Data can be digital but not machine readable. For example, consider a PDF document containing tables of data. These are definitely digital but are not machine-readable because a computer would struggle to access the tabular information (even though they are very human readable!). The equivalent tables in a format such as a spreadsheet would be machine readable. Note: The appropriate machine readable format may vary by type of data – so, for example, machine readable formats for geographic data may be different than for tabular data. In general, HTML and PDF are not machine-readable. 15
Available in bulk? Data is available in bulk if the whole dataset can be downloaded or accessed easily. Conversely it is considered non-bulk if the citizens are limited to just getting parts of the dataset (for example, if restricted to querying a web form and retrieving a few results at a time from a very large database). 10
Openly licensed? This question addresses whether the dataset is open as per http://opendefinition.org. It needs to state the terms of use or license that allow anyone to freely use, reuse or redistribute the data (subject at most to attribution or sharealike requirements). It is vital that a licence is available (if there’s no licence, the data is not openly licensed). Open Licences which meet the requirements of the Open Definition are listed at http://opendefinition.org/licenses/. 30
Is the data provided on a timely and up-to-date basis? This question addresses whether the data is up-to-date and timely – or long delayed. For example, is election data made available immediately or soon after the election, or is it only available many years later? Any comments around uncertainty are put in the comments field. 10
URL of data online? The link to the specific dataset if that is possible. Otherwise to the home page for the data. If that is not possible, then the link to main page of site on which the data is located. Only links to official sites are eligible, not third party sites. When it is necessary for submitters to provide third party links, then they are put in the comments section.
Date the data became available? This question describes when the data first became openly available (online, in digital form, openly licensed etc). Sometimes this is approximate. For example, “2012” or “Jan 2012”. If there is a precise date, then they are typed in in a yyyy-mm-dd format.
If the data is not open, then this question will instead describe the date the data first became available at all. (Note: some open data will have been available in other forms previously, so the date specified here is the date it became openly available).
Format of data? This question describes the form that the data is available in. For example, for tabular data it might be: Excel, CSV, HTML or even PDF. For geodata it might be shapefiles, geojson or something else. If available in multiple formats, the format descriptors are listed separated with commas. Any further information is put in the comments section.’

For Switzerland Timetables (of major government operated (or commissioned) *national-level* public transport services (specifically bus and train))
and National government budget (at a high level (e.g. spending by sector, department etc)) are less open.
Data from swisstopo and Statistics Switzerland (partially thanks to the new opendata.admin.ch/ portal) have most criteria in green, the main question lies in licensing (not freely available, not free for commercial use).

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Featured Visualisation: An example how to present Open Data

NYC Open Data Site Finder
This interactive graphic, inspired by Chris Whong’s d3.js network diagram, allows users to access every link in the NYC Open Data site. Hover over a circle in the packed bubble chart to see link info, and click on a circle to access the site in a new browser tab. Use the bar charts and filters to focus your view.’

2013-10-29_nyc-finder