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Regular version of the site

Entering the Big Data Era — Will Traditional Statistics Still Be in Demand?

The development of a national data management system, along with its architecture and ontology, is one of the key issues for a future cabinet, believes Maxim Akimov, First Deputy of the Chief of the Government Staff of the Russian Federation. A discussion at a panel session on data in the digital era at the XIX April International Academic Conference at HSE looked into the key challenges in regards to Russian statistics and possible responses to them.

A year ago, Russia’s Federal Statistics Service (Rosstat) lost its independent status and became part of the Ministry of Economic Development. Today, the Ministry is discussing how to develop the statistics service and improve the quality of its operations, says Savva Shipov, Deputy Minister of Economic Development. ‘First of all, we are talking about digitalizing all statistical collection systems and processing, harmonizing all state information systems (there are over 320 of them today), and creating a unified digital platform,’ he notes. At the Russian Investment Forum in Sochi, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev issued directions for the creation of a national data management system, which will become one of the key infrastructure elements in Russia’s digital economy, he added.

‘It has become common to refer to the digital economy,’ says Leonid Gokhberg, First Vice Rector of HSE, adding: ‘In the process of creating and implementing a data management system, it is essential to understand and outline the role of state statistics (as well as the statistics service itself), conceptualize its model, systematize approaches to modernizing the procedures of information collection and integration within the context of digitalization, and interdepartmental coordination of statistical activities, as well as consider new analytical opportunities for administrative, open and Big Data,’ he said. Attention should be placed on methodology, harmonizing Russian statistics with international data, and launching statistical monitoring in new fields. ‘The respective statistical services of EU member states have some interesting experience in this regard. They are proactive in their communication with society, business, the state and the global community,’ Mr. Gokhberg said. He also emphasized that the statistical service should be independent in the development of its methods and data reporting.

Leonid Gokhberg also presented a report - ‘Advanced Model of State Statistics in the Digital Era’. Here, he reflected on key areas of structural and functional transformation in Russian state statistics as the basis for the future National Data Management System. In particular, it looked at organizing dialogue between the statistical service and its users, integrating data from various sources, and intellectual work with information in the context of Russia’s currently digitalizing economy. The report is based on research conducted by the HSE Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge (HSE ISSEK) in regards to improving the methods of statistical monitoring, creating and altering international statistical standards, and developing methods of statistical information collection, processing, analysis and distribution.

We are entering a ‘data society’, which is being generated without direct human involvement, said Yaroslav Kuzminov, HSE Rector, noting such Big Data as phone calls and geolocation databases. We have to discuss and quickly solve questions related to privacy. ‘Big Data systems will soon reach a point where statistics or sociology won’t be needed,’ he states, adding: ‘We’ll be able to get data from arrays of phone calls, GPS tracking, etc. That’s why the big question is - do we need to do traditional statistics?’

‘We might want to know about the total number of tickets? Or GDP numbers? The size of the population? So, what is Big Data? It is huge arrays of non-structured information,’ Alexander Surinov, Head or Rosstat, said in disagreement. He believes that Big Data is really a major challenge for the statistical service, noting that it’s ‘stupid not to notice it,’ but ‘it’s too early to say that we are ready to use it.’ Mr. Surinov also noted that the service is very hopeful that the new digital platform for statistical data management will be developed. Another important part of the standardization process could be the creation of a unified register for the purpose of monitoring objects based on Rosstat’s upgraded statistical register. ‘As of today, we face the serious challenge of calculating added value in the country with outstaffing and outsourcing – this is a "fabless manufacturing",’ he said.

The outdated organization of the state’s information base means that departments regularly manipulate methods of calculating performance targets. In turn, this results in orders being executed and targets being achieved only “on paper”’, laments Andrey Zhulin, HSE Vice Rector. In addition to direct the budgetary costs of collecting statistics, there are considerable costs borne by organizations for preparing and presenting statistics. In fact, there are 133 forms of statistical reporting today, he noted.

‘Total annual costs incurred only by public organizations and social administration bodies come to over 66.2 billion roubles,’ Zhulin calculated, adding: ‘We must move towards a unified, integrated and distributed model for statistical, reporting and administrative data collection, as well as processing, storage, reporting and distribution.’ ‘We also need to reform the systems of statistical data collection, processing, analysis and representation, and also create a system for effective interaction with users of statistical information,’ he emphasized.


See also:

25th Yasin (April) International Academic Conference Now Accepting Proposals

Reports on new research results will be presented and discussed as part of the conference’s sections. These reports will be selected based on reviews of proposals. As always, the conference programme features expert discussions of the most pressing economic, social, internal and external issues in the format of roundtables and associated events.

Academic Council: HSE University’s Contribution to Achieving National Goals and Development Priorities to Increase

HSE University’s Development Programme until 2030 will be improved in order to increase the university’s contribution to achieving national goals and implementing the priorities of the country’s scientific and technological development. This decision was made by the university’s Academic Council on April 26. The meeting also addressed the principles for the development of HSE University’s external communications, one of which is the creation of a high-quality information field around the university.

Keeping Up with the Neighbours: Envy as a Driver of Economic Growth

Classical economic theory assumes that economic agents are entirely self-interested and rational in their pursuit of material well-being, and that they are not affected by external factors. As a result, externalities are not considered in any way when constructing economic models. Nevertheless, some sociologists argue for a revision of modern economic theory to incorporate the ethical dimensions of economic agents' behaviour. Kirill Borissov, Professor of the Faculty of Economics at the European University in St Petersburg, spoke at the XXIV Yasin (April) International Academic Conference and shared his observations from creating his own economic model incorporating the factor of envy.  

Structural Transformation and Drivers of Sustainable Growth in Russian Economy Discussed at HSE University

The Russian economy has demonstrated high resilience to unprecedented external pressure and has managed to largely adapt to new conditions. As early as this year, it can go from recession to growth. The issue of where to find drivers and resources for this was discussed at a plenary session titled ‘Russian Economy under Sanctions: From Adaptation to Sustainable Growth’ at the XXIV Yasin (April) International Academic Conference held at HSE University as part of the Decade of Science and Technology. Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation Maksim Reshetnikov took part in the discussion.

‘People Want to Receive Only Useful Content’

Experts say that interest in news has sharply increased among the Russian audience. At the same time, part of the audience deliberately avoids it. What kind of content is in demand and will people continue to watch TV? These and other issues were discussed at the plenary session ‘ Info-hygiene and Information Elitism: How to Consume Media Properly’ at the XXIV Yasin (April) International Academic Conference.

'The Emerging Trends in Africa Will Shape the World Order, and We Need to Be Prepared for That'

Africa has the potential to become a new economic giant. Today, African countries are interested in comprehensive cooperation and strengthening their positions in the global arena, and they look forward to receiving assistance from Russia and China in developing their technology, economy, and social sphere. Effective engagement with Africa requires training a greater number of professional African studies specialists. The XXIV Yasin (April) International Academic Conference at HSE University featured a plenary session on 'Africa in a Changing World'.

Learning a Foreign Language Can Delay the Onset of Dementia

Dementia, a debilitating form of cognitive impairment, can be preventable. According to Professor Jubin Abutalebi of the University Vita Salute San Raffaele, Italy, and the Arctic University of Tromsoe, Norway, the easiest way to prevent cognitive decline after the age of 60 is to learn and practice foreign languages – the more languages, the better, suggests Professor Abutalebi in his presentation 'Preventing dementia through bilingualism' at the XXIV Yasin (April) International Academic Conference.

‘The BRICS Strategic Partnership Offers the World Creative, Unifying, Forward-Looking Initiatives’

Today, BRICS has become an influential factor in modern international relations and is perceived as one of the pillars of a more just world order. This association is not based on one party’s dominance, but instead, is built on a sound balance of interests. The role of the association was discussed by the participants of the plenary session ‘BRICS Development Strategy: Equal Opportunities in an Unequal World’at the XXIV Yasin (April) International Academic Conference.

Sanctions Create New Opportunities for Russian Companies

Like any crisis, the sanctions of 2022, besides problems, have created new opportunities for Russian companies. This is the conclusion that HSE University’s experts have come to. Their study results are presented in the report ‘Adaptation of Russian Industrial Companies to Sanctions: First Steps and Expectations’, prepared by HSE University for the XXIV Yasin (April) International Academic Conference.

Search Query: How to Study Migration with Google Trends

Experts have calculated that the number of international students in Russia has grown six times over the last decade, and researchers say that many of those who are studying today would like to stay in the country. This, alongside issues such as why Google Trends are worth looking into, were covered at the HSE XXIV Yasin International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development section on demography and labour markets.