20 October 2010 was UN sponsored World Statistics Day
The celebration of the World Statistics Day was meant to acknowledge the service provided by the global statistical system at national and international level, and hoped to help strengthen the awareness and trust of the public in official statistics. The day serves as an advocacy tool to further support the work of statisticians across different settings, cultures, and domains.
Official statistics are data produced and disseminated by national statistics offices, other government departments’ statistical units and indeed by many UN, international and regional statistical units.
In the UK the history of statistics ranges from the Domesday Book in 1086 when William I commissioned a detailed inventory of all the land and property in England and Wales. The results of this first major statistical enumeration were set out in the Domesday Book. To the statistical order in 2009 for the Pre-release Access to Official Statistics.
The latest order decreases the time that journalists, and others, have access to statistics prior to their official release. The five day period has been decreased to a maximum of 24 hours to be exceeded only for exceptional circumstances.
I mention this last and latest act because data driven journalism has been able to flourish with the advent of available data – free or inexpensive – and with access to software that allows its manipulation. Previous Data columns have explored some ways in access and exploitation –in the nicest possible sense – have been pursued. This column is a reminder that access to data is governed by those who create it and as such its availability is not always certain.
A useful resource for connecting and meeting other people interested in data driven journalism is the European Journalism Centre and the group Data Driven Journalism: http://community.ejc.net/group/datadrivenjournalism.