After two years of activity, the DIGICOM project has now reached its mid-term. The project has already delivered concrete results, based on the good cooperation between all of the national statistical institutes involved and Eurostat.
In this edition of the newsletter, we present some of the recent key deliverables: the digital publication ‘The life of women and men in Europe’, disseminated in 24 languages, the ESS Facebook page featuring visual content from 19 NSIs and Eurostat, and the Power from Statistics conference focusing on long term needs of our key users.
We have also asked the Eurostat team coordinating the DIGICOM project to tell us how they work, and to update us on the overall progress of the project.
Last but not least, plans for this year, in particular the ESSnet on Linked Open Statistics which is due to start, are presented in ‘NSI Perspective’. Led by Statistics Bulgaria, it involves INSEE, ISTAT and CSO Ireland. The ESSnet will develop pilots to assess the added-value of this technology for users. It concerns all NSIs, as the ESSnet also aims to provide all ESS members with solutions to develop their capabilities in this field.
Users are key in the DIGICOM project, and even more so in 2018! We have just released the European Statistics User Forum, which aims at increasing dialogue with key users on European statistics: feel free to promote it in your country! We have also just launched a study on branding, user perception and communication of official statistics in the EU and will report on it in a next edition!
We hope you will enjoy reading this issue of the Newsletter!
Emanuele Baldacci, Eurostat
Director of Methodology,
Corporate statistical and IT services
DIGICOM Project Owner
Hannele Orjala, Statistics Finland
Director of Communication and Information Services
Member of DIGICOM Steering Group
Chief Editor of DIGICOM Newsletter – Issue 6
The Power from Statistics conference was held in Brussels on 18 and 19 October 2017 with the theme ‘Delivering the evidence of tomorrow’. Jointly organised by Eurostat and the European Political Strategy Centre, it brought together a diverse group of high-level speakers representing official statistics, the private sector, journalism, think-tanks, academia and policymaking.
Delivering the evidence of tomorrow
The objective was to determine the topics of relevance to decision-makers and citizens in the future and find out how official statistics could best deliver this information to them. The audience, composed of top managers and other staff from over 20 European national statistical institutes and representatives from more than 20 different Commission DGs, was inspired by their
Jon Steinberg (Google) presentations and discussions on various issues concerning migration, globalisation, new economic and business models, sustainable development, ethics and statistics, science and society.
In a preparatory phase, five international expert round table events were organised, leading to the ‘Power from Statistics Outlook Report’, which contains personal reflections and ideas on the future of European statistics.
The Outlook Report articles were the main discussion material for the conference.
High level participant’s perspective
Director General Marjo Bruun from Statistics Finland praised the conference. ‘The actual success was the entire programme and the first-rate speakers that highlighted the significance of information and the importance of using statistics in society.
It was also excellent that the majority of speakers were not only statistical experts; there were researchers, politicians, officials and representatives of the business world,’ Ms Bruun said.
‘The good content of the conference was also supported by its arrangements, such as the well-functioning app containing the programme, speakers’ information and map, as well as the facility for making notes. In addition, the #PowerFromStatistics tweets could be found there. And the software was even fast and handy to use.’
The ‘Power from Statistics’ initiative will now continue by summarising the conclusions of the conference in a Guidance Report that will serve to inspire European evidence-based policymaking in general — and the European official statistics community in particular — for years to come.
The DIGICOM project brings together around 50 experts from NSIs and therefore requires good coordination! In this edition, we meet Eurostat staff ‘behind’ the DIGICOM project: Christine Kormann (project manager and coordinator of WP3), Maja Islam (coordinator of WP1), Chris Laevaert (coordinator of WP2) and Britta Gauckler (coordinator of WP4).
1. How do you work?
We belong to two different units and work for the DIGICOM project in a matrix organisation. Each of us is responsible for one Work Package, to animate the work with the national statistical institutes, coordinate within Eurostat and manage contracts.
Each Work Package team meets once or twice a year. This is essential to create strong links and understanding between people. But we have also become one of the best clients of video conference facilities; up to 15 per year! Some of the actions even require weekly contacts. We have intensified our working relations with dissemination staff in the ESS, and we appreciate their enthusiasm for the project! On many occasions our strengthened ties have helped us to go beyond what we thought would be possible. We believe those ties will also be existing and indispensable for the future.
We also ensure internal coordination with Eurostat, with our colleagues in charge of communication, quality, IT and from various statistical fields, for example for the launch of experimental statistics or the digital publication to mention only a few.
2. What has the DIGICOM project achieved so far?
We are now at the mid-term of the project, and several deliverables have already become available. The 2017 highlights are the digital publication ‘The life of women and men in Europe’ in 24 languages, the ESS Facebook page that features content from 19 NSIs, the launch of experimental statistics and the didactic videos on regional statistics disseminated via a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC).
We have organised a number of successful events: the data visualisation workshop (Valencia 2016), the Linked Open Data workshop (Malta 2017), the first European hackathon (Brussels 2017) and the Power from Statistics conference (Brussels 2017).
A great added-value is the way we learn from each other and experiment together. For example, with the Facebook account, both Eurostat and the NSIs have learnt how to develop posts that have an impact, and assessed together the results of using paid promotion. Another example is that NSIs have learnt how to get in touch with the educational system by paving the way to the first European Statistical Competition in 2018.
3. What is coming next?
In 2018, we expect major improvements of our knowledge of users, through studies (user personas, branding study) as well as via the newly launched European Statistics User Forum.
We will also have key deliverables to contribute to statistical literacy among young people: the European Statistics Competition, with already 1 700 registered teams of students aged 14-18 in 10 participating European countries, and new videos, e-learning modules and games. In 2018-19, we will see the results of the pilots on Linked Open Statistics produced by the ESSnet, enabling the ESS to decide if this approach should be used wider to improve the dissemination of our statistics.
Finally, visualisation guidelines will be developed and a new visualisation workshop will be organised in 2018.
For the first time within the ESS a common publication has been released. This was done on 18 October 2017 on the occasion of European Statistics Day. ‘The life of women and men in Europe’ is a digital publication aimed at a general public, containing short texts, interactive visualisation tools, infographics and even a quiz. All the visuals can be directly embedded into websites, emailed to others, or sent directly to Facebook or Twitter feed.
The publication is divided in three parts, showing similarities, differences but also inequalities between women and men:
- Living, growing, ageing
- Learning, working, earning
- Eating, shopping, surfing, socialising…
A true European cooperation
The publication is the result of a very good cooperation in the ESS, both in the elaboration and dissemination stages. Its content was elaborated by Eurostat and members of DIGICOM WP2 team, based on good practices. For example, the visualisation ‘lifeline’ was initially designed by Statistics Slovenia.
But the dissemination went beyond the WP2 team! All NSIs agreed to translate and disseminate the publication, a total 30 country/language bundles of the publication were prepared and 28 bundles were published from NSI websites. This required strong coordination! The branding was also new. Each version of the publication was branded with Eurostat’s logo and the logo of the respective NSI.
What is the impact?
The publication was accompanied by an extensive communication plan including a promotional video in 20 languages, tweets and Facebook posts.
The impact on social media and mainstream media was very high. For instance, the French newspaper Le Figaro published a 4 minute video discussing the publication; in other countries the publication sparked interest and led to active discussions in the main media portals (Tagesschau, Corriere della sera, Heute, Kathimerini). Also, numerous embeddings of individual visualisations of the publication were recorded on social media. The English version published on the Eurostat website had over 50 000 page views in October and had 50 % more consultations in the first week than a similar Eurostat digital publication.
Feedback from Bulgaria: Interview with Antoaneta Ilkova
The publication on Economy.bg
Antoaneta is the Head of Publications, Library and Digital Products Department of the National Statistical Institute of Bulgaria. ‘The main result of our active participation in the Work Package is the Bulgarian version of the flagship publication. We were involved in the preparation of the digital publication since the early stages of the process, together with other team members. The work was very intensive, fruitful and interesting because the realisation of our task and making decisions on all issues — such as the type of graphics, the balance between the text and graphics, what visualisation tools to use, colours, etc., was the result of a discussion between the members of WP2.
As such a modern product at the European level, the visibility of the publication was not only the news of the day, but also the news of the month in Bulgaria in all mainstream media, as well as on Facebook. We have received very positive feedback and can proudly say that the assessment of the publication in Bulgaria is extremely positive. All our efforts were recognised. The national television and national radio, all private TV channels as well as radio programmes and newspapers mentioned the publication, published and commented on different topics and almost all data included in the publication: BNT News, Nova Varna news, News.bg, INS Market, 24 Casa.
The BNSI has received several requests for TV and radio broadcasts to present the digital publication.
The digital publication brought huge interest among different user groups — decision-makers, students, academia, business, etc. It is understandable for a wide range of users because it allows comparisons in the national language between the EU Member States and other European countries as well as to see where how we are positioned in Europe on the eve of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Publishing such detailed statistical information at the European level in Bulgarian was met as something long-awaited and very timely by the public in the country. Teachers told us that they could use it for preparing interactive lessons. From our point of view, the “production process” was easy and there was very good cooperation and coordination between Eurostat and NSIs. We definitely think the exercise should be repeated and we will be happy to support any future update activities. ’
A part of the work of DIGICOM’s Work Package 1 is engaging with users online. In WP1, we decided to engage with two different groups of users: potential and light on the one hand, and advanced users of statistics on the other. To engage with light users, and attract potential ones, in November 2016, 11 NSIs and Eurostat launched an ESS Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/EuropeanStatistics/
The content shared on the page is visual: infographics, videos, GIFs.
It presents statistical concepts, compares a figure in several or all EU countries, or gives a statistical overview of a topic in an easily digestible way for users with a basic understanding and limited interest in statistics.
19 NSIs contribute to the ESS Facebook page
Today, more than one year after the launch, the offer on the page has grown to 20 contributors: 19 NSIs and Eurostat. Colleagues from participating NSIs regularly send content and accompanying texts to Eurostat, which prepares and publishes it on ‘European Statistics’.
In a survey distributed in December 2017 to NSIs participating in the initiative, they reported to have benefited from the experience in a range of ways.
Those with NSI Facebook pages learned how to draft more engaging texts that accompany content published on Facebook, which content fares best on Facebook, how paid promotion is used. Among those whose NSIs still do not have a presence on Facebook, some reported to have improved or intensified their data visualization efforts based on the content that other NSIs delivered or the insights of the consultant, or simply learned how Facebook works and what is needed to run a page — knowledge that is key before deciding whether to launch a new page.
64 % of the followers are aged 13-34
The initiative has been successful in reaching young people: in January 2018, 64 % of the followers were aged 13-34. Their distribution according to the country of origin varies — the countries that are best represented among the followers are the ones who have published content most frequently and whose content had a high reach and engagement.
Another factor could be the take-up of Facebook in these countries: the popularity of the network and its mode of use vary across Europe.
Expert feedback and paid promotion
In order to increase the visibility of the page, extend the reach of our content toward the right audience, and grow community engagement, in October 2017 we started using paid promotion with the help of a consultant from GOPA Com. He provided an initial analysis of the page, with recommendations regarding layout and structure, community, content, editorial calendar and multipliers. He also regularly provides comments to the texts used to present the content (copies), and strategic advice on how to use paid promotion and targeting. The recommendations were welcomed and implemented on ‘European Statistics’, and some NSI Facebook pages.
Since then, the number of followers has grown from 3 924 (18 October 2017) to 7 063 (15 January 2018) — increase of 80 % in less than three months. The monthly number of reached users in November 2016 was 43 672, while in November 2017 it was 123 922. In the same period, the number of monthly engaged users in 2016 was 2 376, while in 2017 it was 4 664. There has also been an increase in the number of comments and questions from users.
The ESSnet Linked Open Statistics (LOS) was launched in November 2017 and will last until April 2019. The overall goals of the ESSnet are to make it easier for national statistical institutes (NSIs) to disseminate their output in a more appropriate way for users and to prepare the ESS for the integration of Linked Open Data approach into the dissemination of official statistics. The key principles of the DIGICOM project — user-centricity and agility — are at the core of the work of the ESSnet towards reaching these objectives.
The pilots will focus on linking data and metadata at local, national and international level as well as on linking statistical data and metadata with non-statistical web-based data — for example, wiki, georeferenced data, etc. The pilots will demonstrate the benefits of this approach for users, but also help to assess risks and costs.
The ESSnet also aims to stimulate cooperation and provide capacity building for the whole ESS. For this purpose, it will set up a platform for collaborative work among ESS experts on Linked Open Data (LOD) topics and will provide training material and webinars.
To summarise, the ESSnet aims to develop more flexible means for data dissemination, enhance data exploration between datasets and enable linking with other sources while taking into account the users’ perspective of Linked Open Data.
Who is part of the ESSnet?
The ESSnet is a consortium of four NSIs — the NSI of Bulgaria (Project Coordinator), INSEE (France), the CSO (Ireland) and ISTAT (Italy), representing different levels of experience in LOD. The action is going to be reinforced by academic experts from the research community and the consortium plans on subcontracting some activities for this purpose.
The coordinator's view: NSI Bulgaria
Antoaneta Ilkova, the coordinator of the ESSnet, said that the National Statistical Institute of Bulgaria was convinced of the significance and importance of the ESSnet Linked Open Statistics in finding new ways for disseminating their data at the early stages of the process, when they were invited to coordinate the ESSnet consortium. As a member of DIGICOM WP3, they have understood that Linked Open Data give an opportunity to save time, space and provide users with quality, up-to-date and easily understandable information, while clearly showing the provenance of data.
‘Working in this project is a new experience for us, as we have no previous experience in Linked Open Data. We decided to get involved in this future-oriented project on LOS to learn from and use the expertise and support of the statistical offices of leading NSIs in this area within the ESS,’ Ms Ilkova said.
Participating in the project will enable access to technologies and knowledge that would require significantly greater resources if the countries were working alone. ‘By using the knowledge and experience of our partners facing similar difficulties, we are going to reduce the time in moving from 2-star to 5-star datasets. It is easier to make the first move in this unknown area if we have the support of our peers,’ Ms Ilkova pointed out.
ESSnet member's view: INSEE
A member of the ESSnet, INSEE has been publishing linked open data and metadata for more than ten years and has participated in a great variety of projects and actions in this field, with different partners: academic, industrial or administrative. INSEE has also chosen LOD technologies and models for the overhaul of their central metadata repository. ‘We believe LOD can help us to bring better consistency and usability to our data and metadata, to enhance comparability with other sources and to diversify our product offering. In particular, we think that the development of statistical LOD is a strong driver for international coherence of official statistics,’ Franck Cotton stressed.
ESSnet member's view: ISTAT
Carlo Vaccari said that ISTAT is participating in the project because they think that LOD are an increasingly important way to disseminate data and the possibility to link data between different suppliers is an emerging need for national statistical institutes.
‘With LOD, Official Statistics can more easily reach a wide range of users and recent technologies advances in the open data community enable new advanced dissemination channels for Official Statistics,’ Mr Vaccari said. Two years ago ISTAT released its first LOD portal that allows direct access to data via Web Services, machine-to-machine solutions (e.g. GIS-LOD), data conversion, export to productivity tools and visualisation by means of external tools.
ESSnet member's view: CSO Ireland
One of the participating countries, Ireland has a very active Open Data community. Ireland’s Open Data Portal data.gov.ie has been developed over a number of years. There is real interest in Ireland in moving to 5-star linked open data. A number of pathfinder projects in Ireland have already explored this possibility. ‘The ESSnet is a chance for the Central Statistics Office to move our data to another level of openness by making it linkable locally, nationally and internationally. Once the data is linkable a whole new range of products and services are possible,’ Eoin McCuirc stated.
Ireland has been involved in the Open Cube project and the CSO published the Census 2011 data as linked open data http://data.cso.ie with a SPARQL endpoint. The CSO’s collaboration with Ireland's national mapping agency Ordnance Survey Ireland, the UN Statistical Division and Esri Inc. to link Sustainable Development Goals data using common URIs http://irelandsdg.geohive.ie/ continued this learning journey. The CSO has actively engaged with the open data community and academia.
ESSnet will create the potential for wider participation and collaboration. The CSO will publish all StatBank (time series database) data as linked open data and is interested in exploring new products and services that consume this data. Mr McCuirc said that the ESSnet on LOD is important to all NSIs by showing the path to engaging with linked open data. The CSO is interested in claiming URIs for all their statistical classifications and being a thought leader in the linked open data in Ireland. The ESSnet will be a great opportunity to further work towards these goals.
During the next couple of months, there will be a number of events of high relevance to colleagues interested in users, dissemination and communication of official statistics. These events are reported in the table below.
Calendar of events related to DIGICOM
Click on the title to navigate to the event website
Related to DIGICOM
|19 March 2018
|Meeting of Work Package 1||Work package 1|
|20 March 2018
|Meeting of Work Package 4||Work package 4|
|25 May 2018
|DIGICOM Steering Group meeting||All WPs|
|26-29 June 2018
|European Conference on Quality in Official Statistics
Topic II Quality in official statistics and stakeholders
|25-27 June 2018
|UNECE Workshop on Statistical Data Dissemination and Communication||All WPs|
|8-13 July 2018
|International Conference on Teaching Statistics||Work package 4|
|24-30 August 2018
Kuala Lumpur (MYS)
|IFLA WLIC 2018, World Library and Information Congress|
|18-21 September 2018
|IAOS Conference, Better Statistics for Better Lives (OECD)||All WPs|
|October 2018||Visualisation event||Work package 2|
|16-18 October 2018
|EFGS 2018, European Forum for Geography and Statistics|
|16-20 September 2018Wiesbaden (DE)||IMAODBC||All WPs|
|22-23 October 2018
|CESS 2018 Conference||All WPs|
|22-24 October 2018
|UN World Data Forum 2018||All WPs|
|11-15 March 2019