PARIS21's Manager Johannes Jutting co-authored with the Director of Data-Pop Alliance Emmanuel Letouzé a research paper on 'Official Statistics, Big Data and Human Development'.
Most current discussions on Big Data mainly focus on if and how it can contribute to producing faster, cheaper, more frequent and different development indicators for better policies. This paper takes a different starting point. It stresses the fundamental political nature of the debate, encouraging us to go and think beyond issues of measurement and stressing the centrality of politics beyond policy. It argues that in fact Big Data needs to be seen as an entirely new ecosystem comprising new data, new tools and methods, and new actors motivated by their own incentives, and should stir serious strategic rethinking and rewiring on the part of the official statistical community. It contends that the emergence of this new ecosystem provides both an historical opportunity, and a political and democratic obligation for official statistical systems: to recall, retain or regain their primary role as the legitimate custodian of knowledge and creator of a deliberative public space for and about societies, to discuss and drive human development on the basis of sound democratic and statistical principles.