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National Statistical Offices (NSOs), particularly in low and middle-income countries, have experienced significant changes in recent years. Many have benefited from noteworthy improvements in their statistical processes. Examples of advances include faster data collection using handheld devices and flawless data processing with sophisticated software tools.

In these transformations, Information Technology (IT) has played a critical role in helping NSOs to save time, improve accuracy, and enhance access to their products. Yet, the improvements have not been consistent in all areas of statistical processes.

Worth noting is the case of indicator dissemination, which still lags in many NSOs. Although many use data portals for indicator dissemination, such IT platforms have failed to make the desired impact. Often, NSOs data portals do not have the indicators people want and need. 

One key reason for the sub-optimal performance of many data portals used by NSOs is that they host indicators originating from paper-based publications. The issue with paper-based publications is that they have inherent limitations, particularly in accommodating large volumes of data. Because of this, the inclusion of indicators in paper-based publications are often subject to prioritisation. As a result, there is still a gap between processed and published indicators in many NSOs. The difference propagates to data portals as well when NSOs transfer the indicators from paper-based publications to data portals.

In principle, though, data portals can dispense unlimited amounts of data. Currently, though, many do not, but this need not be the case. Since many NSOs already produce indicators as digital records, there should be no need to re-digitise the data from paper-based publications for data portals. The situation provides a strong business case for solutions, which can help NSOs quickly disseminate all indicators produced.

NSOs need data portals to be designed to capture the validated indicators as soon as they are available in digital format for the first time in the dissemination processes. However, to reach this state, design and development of data portals could make effective use of a proper data flow analysis, informing their functionalities, especially considering the distinctions of handling data and associated metadata in the digital realm. The analysis will help identify areas requiring specific attention.

Purpose

The purpose of this guideline is to provide detailed information regarding the analysis of indicator dissemination processes in National Statistical Offices (NSOs). This guideline lays out both basic and advanced work required in NSOs to set up a workflow-based, integrated dissemination solution for indicators.

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