UN ESCWA Online Statistical Information System & Data Portal

Helps to perform tasks on the production of statistics for the Arab region, definition of development trends in the member states, data exchange among countries and the production of public data for the region for external users.

About company

The purpose of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia is to raise the level of economic activity in member countries, strengthen cooperation among them, and promote economic and social development in the region. ESCWA comprises 18 Arab countries in Western Asia: Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the Sudan, the Syrian Arab Republic, and others.

UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia

Industry

Economics

Location

Beirut, Lebanon

Challenge

The UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia carries on its statistics programme as an integral part of its work on economic and social development.  The statistics programme is aimed at developing and expanding capacities in national statistical systems, and in particular ensuring production of relevant, reliable, timely and sound data by countries in the Arab region.

Traditionally, data were published as hard copy statistical bulletins, which was not very practical for the users.  Even PDF versions uploaded to the website proved to be not the most adequate solution, and therefore about 10 years ago the ESCWA Statistics Division decided to take the first step towards modernization, and to make data available online as Excel files accompanied by explanatory text, graphs and charts in the PDF format.  However this was originally intended as an interim solution.

The Statistics Division at ESCWA tried to revive the ESCWA Statistical Information System (ESIS) that was designed before the Division’s establishment in 2008, and never completely implemented.  From the first attempts the ESIS showed rather significant drawbacks.  Firstly, it did not allow users to store structured data as multi-dimensional time series, as ESIS was intended only for simple time series.  Secondly, all data saved in the database at any time were by default available to all users, including external ones. In addition to that, ESIS did not allow converting data and its interface was rather unsophisticated.

The Data Portal allows combining tables, charts, graphs and texts. A tool like this for an attractive and user friendly dissemination of data has never existed before at ESCWA.

Juraj Riečan, PhD

Statistics Division, UN ESCWA

Solution

A solution came in the form of the EOSIS (ESCWA Online Statistical Information System) that forms the back-end of the statistical IT environment and Data Dissemination Portal. 

EOSIS combines a warehouse with the analytical functions, transformation tools and reporting tools.  EOSIS is of great value to statisticians, who are able to consolidate the data previously scattered over Excel sheets in different corners of the shared drives and/or on different computers.  The common data assets can be now handled transparently as a corporate asset.  What statisticians at ESCWA did not expect was that EOSIS would show a lot of duplications, redundancies and inconsistencies in data.  It took a multiple effort to correct this, and while this looked like a slowdown in the work, in fact EOSIS brought a new quality to the data warehouse with no duplications.  Without EOSIS this would not be possible.

EOSIS covers the whole operational process of data and metadata production from the beginning to the end making it automated. Data are imported from a number of formats, such as Excel, TXT, DMX, SDMX and Aremos.

The Web portal in its turn takes care of a number of functions including data and metadata collection and management, analytics, collaboration and presentation of results ready for publication in tables, diagrams and maps. It also allows internal and external users to access data and benefit from a vast array of visualization and analysis options, as well as manage their work with data.

Results

The final solution provides the UN regional commission and its member states with a powerful set of tools for statistical data processing and analysis for the Arab region. This includes national accounts, foreign trade statistics, as well as statistics for industries, finances and prices; population statistics and health indicators statistics; statistics for education and culture. There is also the option of producing various reports on any chosen topic.

The data dissemination portal enables both internal and external users to get access to data, use a wide array of visualization and analysis tools and streamline their work with data.

EOSIS as a back-end, and Data Portal as a front-end bring a professional quality to the statistical work at ESCWA, and liberate statisticians from repetitive work.  EOSIS also allows focusing on expressly electronic publishing of statistics and data.

30+

Data sources for 18 countries

13+

Data visualizers

29 years

Data since 1991

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