COVID-19 – when data save lives

As the dangerous COVID-19 pandemic besets the world, statisticians and data experts around the globe have entered a race against time. Governments, healthcare providers, businesses and citizens need a constant flow of new and disaggregated data to monitor the spread of the virus and to inform efforts to save lives.

At the same time, the pandemic has in many ways disrupted the ability of National Statistical Offices to run key statistical programmes, such as the 2020 Population and Housing Census, and to produce and disseminate the data needed for urgent action by decision makers.

UN DESA’s Statistics Division is stepping up to this challenge by developing innovative solutions, in collaboration with national statistical offices, other UN agencies and international organizations, and with the data community at large.

“We have already seen amazing tools created by countries, UN System agencies, and by all stakeholder groups to address the challenge of the COVID-19 crisis,” said Stefan Schweinfest, Director of the UN DESA Statistics Division.

“But we must rise to this challenge together—as a global professional community—, sharing experiences and making solutions accessible to all who need them.”

To pull all these diverse efforts together, the UN DESA Statistics Division, in collaboration with the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data and Open Data Watch, has launched a new website dedicated to showcasing the official statistics community’s response to the COVID‑19 crisis.

The website offers a space for statisticians and data experts to share guidance, actions, tools and best practices to ensure the operational continuity of key data programmes by National Statistical Offices, and to address issues of open and timely access to critical data needed by governments and all sectors of society.

In collaboration with Esri, UN DESA Statistics Division has also launched a UN COVID-19 Data Hub, alongside a new partnership to support countries in joining a federated network of COVID‑19 data hubs to share available data resources in an open and interoperable environment.

UN DESA Statistics Division is also planning a series of Webinars and Twitter Chats to discuss specific challenges and technical solutions around data in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. A summary of the first #CovidDataChat, held on 1 April on Twitter is already available here.

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