Committee on Global Platform for Data, Services and Applications

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In November 2014, the United Nations Secretary-General presented the report "A World That Counts" by the Independent Expert and Advisory Group on Data Revolution for Sustainable Development, which contained - among others - the following recommendations (a) on technology, innovation, and analysis to establish "a network of data innovation networks" for leveraging and sharing data and data research, (b) on capacity building and resources related to capacity building and technology transfer, data literacy, and resource mobilization through innovative financing mechanisms in partnership with the private sector, and (c) on governance and leadership related to partnership and coordination between governments, private sector, NGOs, media and academia to promote good practices and principles in data sharing, open data, and data rights.

Over the last three years, the GWG identified many promising public and private Big Data initiatives at the national and regional level (held by both public and private agencies), which aim to make data, services and applications accessible and aim to accelerate their synergies for research and capacity building. The work of the GWG task teams in area of satellite data, mobile phone data and social media data is to make those applications accessible in the form of Handbooks accompanied by training material and training courses. Additional task teams are being established and proposed in promising areas with demonstrated use in official statistics such as for price index compilation using scanner data and web scraping. However, a consolidated effort of creating a platform in the sense of "a network of data innovation networks" has not yet been formulated.


Following its decision at the GWG meeting on 29 August 2016 in Dublin, the GWG now proposes to create a Global Platform for data, services and applications. Building on the best practices of those public and private Big Data initiatives, and offering the technology infrastructure and a network for data innovation to the official statistical community, the Global Platform could address the following needs for:

  • a global hub for official statisticians, data scientists and domain experts from the public and private sector to exchange ideas and methods for processing, analysing and visualising Big Data;
  • a global hub for storing Big Data, and related processing, analysing and visualising methodology, and services and applications for continuous development and re-use;
  • a global hub for demonstrating the value of Big Data in better decision making through official statistics through pilots and case studies;
  • a global resource hub for training materials and workshops on Big Data for capability building.

It is further proposed by the GWG that the platform will be developed under auspices of the Commission, which means that the Commission decides on the business model of the platform, the road map for its development and the implementation of the platform. With the Commission's oversight, it would be a platform by and for the official statistical community serving in first instance the national statistical systems in both developed and developing countries. As has been reported above, the proposal for the Global Platform has been moderated and supported by the various panels of the third Global Conference on Big Data for Official Statistics and the series of regional Conferences on a Transformative Agenda for Official Statistics held in 2016. The proposal is also in line with the objectives of the strategic area of "Innovation and modernization of national statistical systems" of the Global Action Plan as formulated by the High-level Group for Partnership, Coordination and Capacity-Building for Statistics for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Tentative Business Model of the Global Platform

The Global Platform could provide scale and scalability for access to and capacity building in the use of Big Data and its integration with administrative sources, geospatial information and traditional survey and census data, and for use of the related services, applications and infrastructure. In terms of products and services, the Global Platform could (a) facilitate the access to and the use of information technology infrastructure and proprietary data sources; (b) host specific global projects such as on the global enterprise registers and on bilateral or multi-lateral data asymmetries; (c) store and give access to new open source applications for the use of multi-source data sets for more timely and flexible production processes for official statistics and (d) provide training and capacity building services in the use of new data sources in the statistical production. Being a global platform for official statistics, it envisaged that the data access could also include access to trusted (micro) datasets from official statistical sources and access to verified and curated data provided by private and public partner organisations. Services of the global platform could include services of Cloud storage and computing, technical statistical services (e.g. stand alone or as building blocks to develop applications), and capacity building in relation to these services.

As an example of how the provision of services and applications could work, a project could be initiated to transfer the methodology and provide access to the data and technology infrastructure of using satellite imagery data for the calculation of agricultural statistics in either a developed or developing country environment. Such a project requires (a) access to satellite data for training and testing purposes; (b) preparation of the data in a secure and appropriate IT environment; (c) testing of the methodology; (d) compilation of the agricultural statistics; and (e) training of the staff to be able to do so on a routine basis. The Global Platform as a network of partners (statistical offices, research institutes and private companies) and through its technology infrastructure would be able to offer and deliver these services, including the services for training and capacity building.

Also consideration needs to be given to the business institutional environment. To work out the details of the business case of the Global Platform and prepare a roadmap for its implementation, the GWG created a committee consisting of representatives of national statistical offices, including those which have recently established national data centres. This committee will apply the accumulated expertise of its members and the best practices in the design and implementation of the Global Platform. Moreover, separate dialogues will be held with private data and technology companies and international and regional agencies. In articulating the business case and roadmap for the implementation of the platform, the committee will consider such issues as the deployment of the technological infrastructure, the access to proprietary data of private data owners, the sharing of existing and the development of new Big Data applications, the offering of capacity building services based on public and private sector courses, the governance and financing arrangements including the position and role of the Commission and the GWG, and the link with national, regional and global initiatives such as the national data centres, the Sandbox of the Economic Commission of Europe, the African regional centres, and the Global Pulse Labs. An initial roadmap with milestones and time table, including for the testing of the Beta version, is presented in a background document to this GWG report.

In conclusion, the GWG proposes to establish a Global Platform for data, services and applications under auspices of the Commission. This platform could be a network of partners (statistical offices, research institutes and private companies) with appropriate technology infrastructure which would be able to offer and deliver data, applications and services for the community of official statistics, including services for training and capacity building. The platform would be gradually built according to the road map described in the background document.



  • Denmark
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Colombia
  • Mexico
  • Netherlands
  • Philippines
  • Senegal
  • UAE
  • United Kingdom

International Institutions

  • UNSD
  • World Bank