Expanded data use key to meeting trials

2023-04-26 08:15:35China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Attendees visit an expo during the ongoing United Nations World Data Forum in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. (PHOTO by DONG XUMING/FOR CHINA DAILY)

Experts at UN forum stress growing role of digitalization in innovation

The boom in the use of data for decision-making, governance and innovation will ensure data will play an increasingly important role in the implementation of the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, participants attending the fourth United Nations World Data Forum said on Tuesday.

"Data, as a fundamental strategic resource, an important productive force and crucial production factor, have fundamentally changed the global economic operation mechanism, social production and the way people live," said Kang Yi, head of the National Bureau of Statistics.

"It has expanded the space and injected new impetus to improving national governance and promoting global sustainable development."

Kang said at a meeting on Tuesday during the ongoing forum that rich data resources can bring new opportunities, drive technology upgrades and expand application scenarios. But problems and challenges also occur from time to time.

The forum, organized by the UN and co-hosted by the NBS and the government of Zhejiang province, is being held from Monday to Thursday in Hangzhou, Zhejiang.

"The scope of data has greatly expanded, and a large amount of nontraditional data has been generated and widely used in production, life and national governance. It's difficult for government statistical agencies to effectively respond to such large-scale and diverse data using traditional methods to collect, store and process data," Kang said.

Against such a backdrop, Kang said the government statistical system's management methods, as well as standards, collection principles, sample objects and technical means of data, must be adjusted to better meet the needs of scientific decision-making and macro governance tasks.

Fu Haishan, director of the World Bank's Development Data Group, said the challenges facing the rapidly changing world require better policies, more agile responses to crises and a more nuanced understanding of today's complex problems.

"This means that we must try to rethink the way we collect, produce and use data," Fu said.

"We need to understand that data can be used and reused again and again to help us discover new solutions to the pressing problems of the day. Once kept hidden or made difficult to access, data's value cannot be realized. We also need to make sure that our data inspire trust and that we have the right measures in place to protect against its misuse," she added.

Fu said data need to be shared with society, academics and citizens to ensure accountability and transparency, and data must be continually vetted for quality in terms of accuracy, timeliness, relevance and coverage.

"Data is the new oil. And the amount of data produced daily is growing at an astounding rate with estimates indicating that most of the world's data was generated in the last two years," said Siddharth Chatterjee, the UN resident coordinator in China.

He believes that the rapid rise of data production creates enormous potential for being able to more rapidly, more effectively and more efficiently respond to challenges.

"We must ensure that there exists a common internationally agreed upon data governance architecture to ensure that the increasing amounts of data collected are treated in a way that protects the internationally agreed upon rights of the individual, with such data used for a global commonwealth," he added.

To deal with the current situation, data will serve as one part of the solution, and more efforts should be made to invest in national statistical systems to build skills and capacity, integrate data into decision-making to get the data properly used, and build partnerships to share lessons from the local level up to the global level, said Rachael Beaven, director of the statistics division of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.


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