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MoU inked for tech in India’s official statistical system

The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) and the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to use new technologies for more efficient data collection for official statistics.

The MoU will promote new data technologies, knowledge generation and sharing, and capacity building.

It is expected to improve data monitoring quality and the timeliness of statistical products and services generated by the Ministry. This includes GDP, economic censuses, price statistics, Index of Industrial Production (IIP), and the Annual Survey of Industries (ASI), etc.

According to a press release, the key activities the MoU will cover include business process reviews (BPR) of the existing official statistics system and the development of ICT for mainstreaming data integration across domains and agencies.

The MoU will promote the use of technology as survey instruments and for the processing of data for large scale studies and data analytics.

It will create a national data warehouse to integrate administrative statistical datasets, which will be available at the local government level.

Furthermore, the MoU will leverage administrative data to improve the quality and coverage of core statistics with technical support from and in collaboration with data producers.

The Ministry will also set up common standards and protocols for data collection, its quality, meta-data, and use across line ministries and sub-national entities. It will support capacity building for statistical activities such as big data analytics and technical reporting.

The MoU includes the development of new ICT frameworks for the measurement of social and economic indicators in the country’s emerging knowledge-based economy.

According to the MoSPI, the Directory of Statistics published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) gives information about computerised databases maintained by various organisations at the centre and the state Directorate of Economics and Statistics.

Apart from routine data processing, computers are used in sample selection and as a desktop printing device in preparing manuals and presenting tables.

The Ministry set up a Computer Centre in 1967. It is responsible for electronic data processing, which includes data preparation and management. It develops application software and designed and maintains the Ministry’s website.

The centre is also responsible for the processing of pricing data, compilating indexes, and monthly updates on its web portal. Using the International Household Survey Network toolkit, the centre looks after data documentation, archiving, and dissemination.

The centre oversees IT training and workshops for states and union territories on, for example, the documentation of microdata. It has developed a GIS-based web-enabled online query system for censuses conducted by the MoSPI.

However, the Ministry suggests IT can be used more efficiently in the country’s statistical system. It said that the Government must nurture expertise and skills in areas of specialisation, statistical software is one of the most important amongst them.

It should strengthen computer hardware and software systems and ensure that laptops are available in each large statistical office.

The Ministry also suggested that a website of all classifications, concordance tables along with online database query system should be developed for public use.

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