The global COVID-19 crisis is affecting critical operations across the entire global statistical system. National and international statistical organizations need to take immediate action to ensure the continuity of key statistical compilation activities and the continued availability of data to inform emergency mitigation actions by governments and all sectors of society.
Senior management in statistical organizations are working together with their own front-line managers and IT teams, and with partners at the national and global levels, to deal with the current emergency. This includes:
Stakeholders from across the global statistical community are ready to support National Statistical Offices to address multiple challenges of the current crisis. As part of this effort, the United Nations Statistics Division is leading a collaborative effort with the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data and Open Data Watch, to develop this website to share guidance, best practices, information resources and tools to help statistical organizations function during an emergency situation in which most of their staff is suddenly unable to work on-site.
Rapid adaptation of data collection, processing and dissemination methods to ensure continuity of key statistical programmes.
South Korea’s success in combating COVID-19 certainly has many lessons to offer to the rest of the world, so has its national statistical system. When the first shock of COVID-19 hit the country between early March to mid-April in 2020, Statistics Korea (KOSTAT) was at its busiest time preparing for a number of household surveys such as the household finances and living conditions survey and employment survey.
The COVID-19 pandemic presented a major challenge for household survey programs, as the health risks posed by the virus and associated restrictions disrupted traditional face-to-face survey operations in many countries. According to a survey on the impact of COVID-19 on national statistical offices conducted by the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) and the World Bank in May 2020, 96 percent of National Statistical Offices (NSOs) had partially or fully stopped face-to-face data collection.
As various global restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic continue, so do disruptions to the operations of National Statistical Offices. This comes at a time when data remain key to inform evidence-based policymaking that addresses the manifold public health, economic, and social challenges countries face.
The World Bank and the United Nations Statistical Division (UNSD), in coordination with the five UN Regional Commissions, are conducting a global online survey to assess the impact of the coronavirus crisis on statistical offices, and to identify needs for financial and technical support.
Guidance and possible approaches to address managerial and IT challenges for operational continuity during the emergency situation.
Many organizations around the world are finding themselves in a position of having to decide how to move forward on planned conferences and meetings in the face of the current COVID-19 pandemic. This is the position that colleagues from the United Nations University Institute in Macau found themselves in with the 11th International Development Informatics Association conference (IDIA2020) planned for 25–27 March 2020. The organizing committee considered various options, including cancellation, postponement, or relocation (which was an option at the time), and ultimately decided on the virtual conference format.
With a substantial number of statisticians not being able to travel and working from home, e-learning is probably the best tool for continued learning and acquiring new skills. Many international agencies, regional training institutes and national statistical offices are providing e-learning courses and other learning materials. This can be difficult to navigate, however, not knowing who provides what. An online gateway was therefore recently launched which is meant to help in navigating available courses: https://www.unsdglearn.org/statistics/. Different agencies are there providing key information of their courses and a link to their own pages where one can register for the course in question.
Today, cloud computing stands out as a key element of an operatinal continuity and disaster recovery plan for statistical organizations, particularly in the face of the disruption national and global statistical systems caused by the COVID-19 crisis. Due to its reliance on hardware-independent virtualization technology, cloud computing enables organizations to quickly back up data, applications, and even operating systems to a remote data center, and to deploy them to multiple users distributed in many different locations.
To limit the COVID-19 epidemic, governments in many countries are requiring all or most of their workforce to stay home. For national and international statistical organizations, this raises the prospect of a protracted period of time during which the vast majority of their operations will have to rely on telecommuting arrangements with their staff. This in turn creates huge challenges in order to manage "a very large and sudden spike" in the number of staff needing to work remotely, even for organizations that already have experience supporting a limited number of telecommuters.
Guidance and possible approaches for the production of timely data to monitor the evolution and impacts of COVID-19.
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) of the United Kingdom has released a provisional analysis of deaths related to COVID-19, as reported on the death certificate, from different ethnic groups in England and Wales. The analysis was prepared using linked census and mortality records on deaths occurring between 2 March and 10 April (reported as of 17 April 2020). While ethnicity is not recorded on death certificates in England and Wales, the researchers linked the deaths involving COVID-19 to the 2011 Census. The 2011 Census data included self-reported ethnicity.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has created a huge demand for fast data to measure its impact on society. Statistics Denmark, in collaboration with other members of the national statistical system, has been using new data sources and methods to provide faster indicators of development. These Experimental Statistics, whose methodologies are subject to continuous development and are not part of the official statistics production, can nevertheless be of great value when users demand fast, innovative and reliable measures of development. In the context of the COVID-19 situation, they provide valuable information to understand the pandemic’s impact on consumption, industry, employment, transportation, trade, etc.
The international statistics community has continued to work together, in partnership with national statistical offices and systems around the world, to ensure that the best quality data and statistics are available to support decision making during and after the current crisis. In this context, thirty six international organizations have launched, under the aegis of the Committee for the Coordination of Statistical Activities (CCSA), a report entitled "How COVID-19 is changing the world: a statistical perspective".
Responding to the need for statistical benchmarks for substantiating the public and private decisions that will be taken in the coming months in response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Institute of National Statistics (INS) of Romania is making available a series of ad-hoc studies measuring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Romanian economy, including rapid estimates for the decreases in economic activity, employment, and exports.
Initiatives and resources provided by agencies of the UN system and beyond, including the regional economic and social commissions and stakeholders from private sector, academia, and civil society.
This page contains links to data and information resources provided by international organizations that are part of the global statistical community. It is updated continuously as more resources become available.
Responding to urgent demands for trustworthy, timely and disaggregated data to help policy makers in containing the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigating its social and economic impact, National Statistical Offices around the world are making information resources available to governments, businesses and the public at large. This page is regularly updated with links to COVID-19 resources from national statistical offices. NSOs are invited to contact firstname.lastname@example.org if they would like add to or update the list of links presented for their country.
No one country or sector can overcome COVID-19 alone: this deadly pandemic requires swift and coordinated multi-stakeholder collaboration and knowledge sharing. Numerous data collaboratives and partnerships are happening beyond the official UN system. The Governance Lab has created a living repository for data collaboratives with the aim to build a responsible infrastructure for data-driven pandemic response.
Resources to support and encourage national statistical offices and other data producers to leverage and use open data.
Access to open, interoperable and timely data about the COVID-19 pandemic is critical for understanding how the virus is spreading and the best strategies for responding in different contexts. To help, we have created a dedicated page on the Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX) platform so that our community can find COVID-19 related data from many sources and covering multiple countries.
National governments across the globe and the global development community are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with unprecedented measures. Though capacities in fighting the outbreak across nations vary significantly, all countries need to rely heavily on the availability of geographically disaggregated data in key thematic areas and for various groups of the population. As an immediate first step in addressing these data needs, the Statistics Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs has identified four thematic areas, namely: (1) virus tracking, (2) population, (3) health infrastructure and (4) economy. These data sets will help in mapping the spread of the disease, understanding trends, identifying vulnerable population groups, as well as measuring the economic impact of the pandemic. Ultimately, the aim is to provide access to trustworthy information and to help communicate clear messages so decision makers can address the outbreak effectively and efficiently.
Identifying existing datasets for priority dissemination is the first step to leveraging open data for action during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than focus on collecting new data, national statistical offices should locate existing useful data from traditional and non-traditional sources and publish them while adhering to open data standards to maximize access and usability. This section identifies resources to understand the state of open statistical data in a country, examples of data published by others that are critical to understanding COVID-19, and initiatives underway that use data to stop the pandemic.
National statistical offices need to focus on disseminating open data in a way that facilitates and incentivizes data use to contribute to the fight against the pandemic. National statistical offices should provide data on health resources and monitoring efforts using well-designed websites or data portals that are easy to find and navigate, include data visualizations, and provide a variety of download formats. The resources below provide guidance on disseminating and incentivizing the use of data.