United Nations Statistical Commission

Overview   49th Session (2018)   Side Events

Statistical-Geospatial Integration Forum

"Integrating statistical, geospatial, and other Big Data to leave no one behind"


  • Monday, 5 MAR 2018
  • 09:00 am – 1:00 pm

  • Conference Room 4, General Assembly Building, UNHQ, New York

Meeting organized by United Nations Statistics Division

In the lead up to the 49th session of the UN Statistical Commission (UNSC), the Statistical-Geospatial Integration Forum brings together actors and experts to consider the delivery of integrated timely, reliable and quality data to support, track and inform on progress of the implementation of the SDGs. The Forum is organized by the UN Statistics Division with guidance from the UNSC and UN Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM), and with the support of the IAEG-SDGs: Working Group on Geospatial Information, Expert Group on the Integration of Statistical and Geospatial Information, Australian Bureau of Statistics, INEGI Mexico, Statistics Sweden, World Health Organization, UN Environment and the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS).

The 2030 Agenda will guide how we collectively manage and transform the social, economic and environmental dimensions of humanity and our planet - at least until 2030. Anchored by the 17 SDGs, and their associated targets and global indicator framework, the 2030 Agenda specifically demands the need for new data acquisition and integration approaches to improve the availability, quality, timeliness and disaggregation of data to support implementation at all levels. These data needs, particularly for national implementations of the SDGs, present both a challenge and an opportunity for national statistical, geospatial, and other information systems.

The integration of geospatial and statistical data will be critical to achieving the mission of achieving the SDGs, from utilising existing data sources to support monitoring and reporting, to developing new geostatistical datasets to fully meet the encompassing nature of the SDGs, while supporting National Statistical Organisations and National Geospatial Agencies. Any national SDG implementations will be sub-optimal without strategies and frameworks to integrate geospatial information into the measuring, monitoring and reporting processes. Furthermore, the 2030 Agenda must be country owned and country led in order to leave no one behind.

Many national governments are working towards the integration of statistical and geospatial information. Put simply, linking people, business and the economy to place, to a geographic location can result in a fuller understanding of social, economic and environmental issues than is possible through a socio-economic information lens on its own. The geographic dimension is increasingly considered as a key enhancement to virtually all national statistics, as it provides the spatial framework and structure for collecting, processing, storing, aggregating and dissemination of statistical data. The UN Expert Group on the Integration of Statistical and Geospatial Information is pursuing the implementation of the five principles of the Global Statistical Geospatial Framework (GSGF), including in the upcoming 2020 Round of Censuses, with the understanding it would apply to other global initiatives such as the development agenda. This pursuit is supported by the IAEG-SDGs: Working Group on Geospatial Information. The GSGF's five principles were developed by the Expert Group and have been endorsed by the Statistical Commission at its 48th session and UN-GGIM at its 6th session.

The Statistical-Geospatial Integration Forum aims to explore the opportunities and challenges to the integration of statistical and geospatial information as inputs into the targets and indicators, not only of the SDGs but national development strategies or priorities. Facilitated by a number of national representatives and global experts providing real and practical examples in a series of panels, the Forum will demonstrate the opportunities and efficiencies that are available. Member States' case studies will highlight good practices and success stories that can lead us in the right direction for a coordinated and integrated approach over the coming 12 years.

    Provisional Agenda

    (as at 16 February 2018)

  1.  09:00 - 09:10 am Opening Statements
  2. Mr. Zachary Mwangi Chege, Kenya, Vice Chair, UN Statistical Commission
  3. Mr. Stefan Schweinfest, Director, UNSD

  4.  09:10 - 10:25 am Panel #1 - Addressing inequalities and safeguarding public health
  5. Geospatial information has repeatedly proven in tackling health emergencies. Localizing the issues is key to its detection, putting control measures in place, as well as to have effective interventions. Early detection using geospatial data can additionally help prevent or better manage emergencies which are often local in their spatial resolution. This equally applies to georeferencing the risk factors. Exposure to environmental health risks, such as exposure to untreated wastewater discharged to water bodies or runoff also disproportionately affect the poor and vulnerable populations. Detection of these issues also detects the spatial nature of exposed populations which makes interventions easier to implement.

    With mounting evidence in the inequalities in access to Water, Sanitation, and Health (WASH) services which are not safe or safely managed. Identifying these populations and their exposure to risk factors in densely populated poor urban centres or rural communities will help making evidence based policies. It is the same groups of people who unfortunately also suffer from unequal exposure to untreated excreta, which further endangers their health, and pose a serious risk to public health through disease transmission pathways.

    Geospatial information, including data from earth observations, could be used both for routine surveillance for evidence based policies including those that target poor and vulnerable populations or applied directly for managing public health risks. This session aims to have a dialogue between the statistical and environmental health communities on how the above approaches could not only support SDG indicators framework but can also impart direct or indirect benefit to meeting many environmental health SDG targets.

    1. Chair:
      Ms. Marie Haldorson, Statistics Sweden & co-Chair, IAEG-SDGs: WG on Geospatial Information
    2. Panellists:
      Mr. Julio Santaella, INEGI, Mexico
    3. Ms. Lisa Bersales, Philippines Statistical Agency
    4. Mr. Rifat Hossain, World Health Organization
    5. Mr. Robert Chen, Columbia University
    6. Mr. Lawrence Freidl, NASA
    7. Open discussions, summary and conclusions


  6.  10:30 - 11:30 am Panel #2 - Linking people to place
  7. This panel will consider the Expert Group on the Integration of Statistical and Geospatial Information pursuit in the implementation of the five principles of the Global Statistical Geospatial Framework (GSGF), including in the upcoming 2020 Round of Censuses, with the understanding it would apply to other global initiatives such as the development agenda. The GSGF's five principles were developed by the Expert Group and have been endorsed by the Statistical Commission at its 48th session and UN-GGIM at its 6th session.

    The integration of statistical and geospatial information, simply put, linking people to place (along with other statistical data), can result in a better understanding of social, economic and environmental issues at all levels. The geographic dimension is increasingly considered as a key enhancement to virtually all national statistics, as it provides the spatial framework and structure for collecting, processing, storing, aggregating and dissemination of statistical data. The integration of geospatial and statistical data will be critical to the mission of achieving the SDGs, from utilising existing data sources to support monitoring and reporting, to developing new geo-statistical datasets to fully meet the encompassing nature of the SDGs.

    1. Chair:
      Mr. Randall Brugeaud, Australian Bureau of Statistics
    2. Panellists:
    3. Mr Greg Scott, UN-GGIM
    4. Ms. Marie Haldorson, Statistics Sweden
    5. Ms. Jillian Campbell, UN Environment
    6. Mr. Molla Hunegnaw, UN Economic Commission for Africa
    7. Open discussions, summary and conclusions


  8.  11:35 am - 12:10 pm Panel #3 - Satellite observations for sustainable development goals
  9. Statistics, geospatial information, Earth observations and other data sources, combined with new and emerging technologies, analytics and processes, are becoming fundamental for countries to measure, monitor and track progress in sustainable development at all levels. Satellite observations have proven their value across many sectors of society, supporting the science that underpins global decision-making on many societal challenges. They offer unprecedented opportunities to modernize national statistical systems and improve the capacities of countries to efficiently track progress on many facets of sustainable development and inform their national policies.

    This panel seeks to capture the differing contributions and roles of Earth observations data for supporting effective monitoring of progress towards he SDG Targets and reporting on the Global Indicator Framework. The panellists will present different views on the value of Earth Observations for the SDGs, illustrated with practical examples. This segment of the Forum will also witness the release of the Committee on Earth Observations Satellites (CEOS) Handbook titled "Satellite Earth Observations in Support of the Sustainable Development Goal"

    1. Chair:
      Mr. Jose Eduardo de la Torre, INEGI, Mexico & co-Chair, IAEGSDGs: WG on Geospatial Information
    2. Panellists:
    3. Ms. Argyro Kavvada, NASA/GEO-EO4SDG
    4. Mr. Christoph Aubrecht, European Space Agencies
    5. Open discussions, summary and conclusions


  10.  12:15 - 13:00 pm Panel #4 - Geography for the 2020 Round of Census
  11. Census geography is essential to plan and manage fieldwork as well as to report results. New geospatial capabilities, technological advances in Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and the availability of affordable aerial and satellite imagery have enabled National Statistical Offices (NSOs) to collect more accurate and timely information about their populations. Through embracing such advances and other geospatial tools, NSOs are improving the overall census data quality and supporting more efficient and impactful analysis of census data. Ultimately, geography is a common denominator within the census ecosystem and supports the improved planning, monitoring, modelling, and dissemination of statistical and other census outcomes.

    This panel will discuss real and practical examples of geography underpinning allactivities associated with a census.

    1. Chair:
      Ms. Paloma Merodio Gómez, INEGI, Mexico & Chair, UN-GGIM: Americas
    2. Panellists:
      Ms. Hoda Mostafa, Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics of Egypt
    3. Mr. João Bosco de Azevedo, Brazil
    4. Ms. Sainan Zhang, UNFPA
    5. Ms. Linda Peters, ESRI
    6. Open discussions, summary and conclusions


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