DUBAI, 21st October, 2018 (WAM) — The Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority, FCSA, hosted the meetings of the UN Global Working Group, GWG, on Big Data across an entire day. The meetings explored the five key pillars of utilising Big Data to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, of the UN’s 2030 Agenda.
Abdullah Lootah, FCSA Director-General and Chairman of the Organising Committee of the UN World Data Forum 2018, opened the meetings, that saw discussions on ways to improve the quality of statistics, strategies for addressing challenges in the Big Data sector, and mechanisms to consolidate partnerships with leading statistics entities from around the world, as well as data developers and experts on Big Data.
Ms. Heather Savory, Co-Chair of the UN Big Data Group and Director-General of Data Capacity at the National Statistical Office of the United Kingdom, said, “I would like to begin by thanking the UAE for hosting these meetings, which provide an international platform and ideal environment that enhances cooperation and partnership among all sorts of institutions and organisations. We are waiting to catalyse research and development efforts to provide secure services and applications, which, in turn, can be used to implement various projects in collaboration with leading tech companies and academic institutions. We look forward to exploring the best practices that enable the international statistics community to embrace modern technologies, improve the collection of data and utilise them to drive development and achieve SDGs locally and internationally.”
Meanwhile, Niels Ploug, Co-Chair of the UN Big Data Group and Director of the Department of Social Statistics of the Statistics Office of Denmark, said, “Independent official statistics serve both governments and the private sector, providing data about economic, social and environmental sectors. With that in mind, technology and data can help outline a clear image of the challenges that lie ahead for our society. Meeting here in Dubai is ideal to address our ability to utilise these resources and we look forward to partnering with the private sector to access its data and develop wider-reaching services.”
Mohamed Hassan Ahli, Executive Director of the National Statistics and Data Sector at the FCSA, said, “The UAE is hosting GWG’s Open Day meetings, in line with the directives of our wise leadership in supporting and encouraging innovation, benefiting from the data revolution and harnessing advanced technology to achieve strategic objectives and sustainable development plans locally, regionally and internationally.”
“Big Data is the cornerstone of optimising the use of artificial intelligence to employ cutting-edge technology in forecasting the future,” Ahli added. “Such forecasts are a key pillar of data-driven strategic planning, which is used across all UAE Government entities. These meetings will undoubtedly offer an opportunity to introduce international best practices in data and statistics across economic, social, environmental, health and educational spheres.”
The GWG meeting agenda included over five sessions showcasing the most prominent experiences and expertise in harnessing Big Data to achieve SDGs.
Following the sessions, members of the GWG proposed key learnings and takeaways, which include the need for statistics offices to modernise in order to benefit from the Big Data revolution; the necessity of optimising the insights that can be gathered from satellite imagery; tapping into machine learning and artificial intelligence; benefitting from the insight provided by data sources and technologies to improve the quality and relevance of official statistics and enable better decision-making for policymakers in the UAE and abroad.
The UN Global World Group for Big Data comprises 22 member countries, including the UAE, represented by the FCSA, which strives to develop national competencies and seek out the latest international technologies and experiences in government Big Data programmes and initiatives. Furthermore, the GWG aims to identify international best practices and innovation-driven initiatives in terms of official statistics, particularly the applications of Big Data.
The GWG also includes nine members of international entities, including Eurostat, the GCC Statistical Centre, the International Telecommunication Union, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, the United Nations Statistics Division, and the World Bank.