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To others, it’s a bore. Others think it’s a different language altogether. Some get intimated by it, afraid they’ll get drowned in the sea of data, graphs, charts and countless formulas. But make no mistake, statistics is more than just a nosebleed-inducing, heartbeat-increasing field of science. Statistics is an invaluable tool; without which, we’d have difficulty in making sense of the world around us. Without statistics, there’d be no standard for measuring data. Without this standard, we’d lose control and predictability over our environment. Just imagine not being able to know what the weather is going to be like tomorrow, or if there’s a storm coming, or if the price of food is going to increase. Scary, right?

While it is true that we can’t predict our future, we can make inferences based on events from the past and recorded information. And statistics is the tool that makes it all possible.

As a tribute to the hard-working statisticians all over the world and in celebrating the importance of statistics, October 20 was declared World Statistics Day. First commemorated on October 20, 2010, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly put forth this this special day in recognition of the importance of statistics in shaping our societies. This year, it is celebrated in line with the conclusion of the Millennium Development Goals which includes the post-2015 development agenda, the data revolution, the preparations for the 2020 World Population and Housing Census Programme. With these events, 2015 truly marks a significant year for statistics. As such, the global statistical community will showcase their achievements and ongoing work, putting truth into this year’s theme, “Better Data, Better Lives.”

Celebrating Statistics in the Philippines

National statistics offices and various institutions across the globe will be celebrating this occasion simultaneously with different national events. Here in the Philippines, the Philippines Statistics Authority (PSA) is spearheading a program to commemorate not just a day for statistics, but an entire month. Celebration on the national level features an exhibit of Official Statistics in the Philippines, a Statistics Fair and the release of an audio-visual presentation on the milestones of the Philippine Statistical System. In an effort to increase public awareness on statistics, promote the statistics profession among students and increase appreciation among government planners about the importance of statistics in planning and decision-making, a full line-up of events across country have been set. These include training for government offices in all regions on basic statistics and data appreciation.

Statistics and ICT

The UN reported that statistics help decision makers develop informed policies that impact millions of people. Its importance trickles down to each of member of society and its presence is felt in a wide range of fields. The developments and future projections in the rapidly expanding field of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) would not have been possible if not for the volumes of data gathered and interpreted through statistics. Likewise, innovations in statistics and processes involving data have been modernized and thoroughly revolutionized through ICT.

With technology as the fundamental driver of the modernization of measuring statistics and the emergent “data revolution”, the UN has stated that investments in innovations are required at all levels, but especially in those institutions which are lagging behind. According to them, an urgent effort needs to be made to increase access to information technologies. They believe this can be achieved by increasing access to broadband, increasing literacy, including adult literacy, and increasing the use of ICT in schools worldwide, to ensure that all people, including the poorest, have access to the technologies that can improve their lives.

With initiatives such as the Juan, Konek! (Free Wi-Fi Project), the DOST-ICTO is one with the UN’s goal of bringing forth increased access to information technologies. Through free access to such technologies, the possibilities for every Filipino become limitless. With a touch of a button, we can gain access to information which we can use and significantly shape for the betterment of our lives. In this way, the theme for the World Statistics Day, “Better Data, Better Lives” comes into life, not only for statisticians and esteemed policy-makers, but for every Juan living in the digital age.