Celebrating World Statistics Day 2015: Better Data, Better Lives

Susan Noble, Service Manager for international data at the UK Data Service talks about celebrating World Statistics Day.

When explaining our work at the UK Data Service to friends and family, I occasionally find myself faced with blank stares and even mentioning the word ‘statistics’ can elicit fear in people’s faces – there is little understanding of just how relevant data are to their lives.  That’s just one of the reasons why it’s so important to raise awareness and to celebrate data and the important work statisticians do, i.e. collecting and disseminating accurate, objective and comparable data to help decision makers develop evidence based policies, and to support a wide range of national and international activities, including development efforts to improve the lives of the poor and the vulnerable. Improved data sources, sound statistical methods, new technologies and strengthened statistical infrastructure and systems should enable better decisions that will result in better lives for everyone, i.e. ‘Better Data, Better Lives’, the theme of this year’s World Statistics Day.

World Statistics Day


First held on Oct 20th 2010, World Statistics Day (WSD) was conceived by the United Nations General Assembly to recognise the importance of statistics in shaping our societies.  World Statistics Day in 2015 has taken on greater significance as this year marks a potentially momentous period when the global political response to climate change and international development is defined – with the launch of the post-2015 development agenda Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the key COP21 climate change summit. 

On the day itself the global statistical community will carry out various promotional activities and events showcasing the role of official statistics and statistical agencies. For example, here are just a few of the many events taking place on 20th October:

  • Statistics Views and Wiley are sponsoring a data visualization competition
  • Destatis, Germany’s national statistical office, will launch its new online portal “StatistikCampus”
  • The Swiss Statistical Society will celebrate World Statistics Day with a seminar on “Better data. Better lives.”
  • The Royal Statistical society is hosting a WSD event that will include short speeches by the National Statistician John Pullinger and Claire Melamed from the Overseas Development Institute
Promoting the Sustainable Development Goals on World Statistics Day

Following the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals at the UN Summit at the end of September and to celebrate World Statistics Day, the UK Data Service has launched a new ‘Explore our data on Sustainable Development Goals’ section on UKDS.Stat – the data delivery system for international data.  The Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (aka Global Goals) and 169 targets which build on the Millennium Development Goals. ‘Leaving no one behind’, the SDGs are intended to inspire action over the next fifteen years in areas of critical importance for people, the planet and prosperity.  At the UK Data Service, we’re keen to engage with and support the development agenda and one way we can do this is to raise awareness of the SDGs.  To do so, we have chosen a number of SDG related time series indicators to visualise within UKDS.Stat.


The visualisation shows data for last 15 years for SDG ‘Goal 1 No Poverty: Poverty headcount ratio at national poverty lines (% of population)’.


The visualisation shows a map view of 2012 data for SDG ‘Goal 15 Life on land: terrestrial protected land area (% of total land area)’. 


The visualisation shows a scatter plot view of 2010 data for SDG ‘Goal 9 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure: R&D expenditure and high technology exports.

These bar charts, scatter plots and map view data visualisations will automatically be updated each time a new edition of the underlying dataset is published, thereby enabling users to easily see trends through time.

There are many areas within the SDGs such as ‘Peace, Justice and strong institutions’ and ‘Partnerships for the Goals’, where measurable, quantifiable indicators are yet to be developed and we will be adding to the new SDG area on UKDS.Stat as the target indicators take shape and data are made available.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *