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Why Statistics Define a Nation's Future

Snapshot moment. It is spring 2020 and we are all thinking about Covid-19: a truly society-changing matter.

Seldom have statisticians been in such demand. Everyone wants the facts, everyone wants the figures, and everyone wants to know what they should do. Are the politicians talking sense? Are they even close to the truth? Which direction is this health crisis taking?

 mother smiling at baby

Let’s face it, today everyone wants their own statistician. On dating apps people even claim to be statisticians to improve their chance of a date. No one, and I really mean no person I ever met, ever thought statistics would be a hot topic, until now.

Stats have not always been this high profile. They are more big data or “geek talk”, numbers or terms that few of us understand, or care to. A number might look obviously large or frightening to the uninitiated viewer, but a statistician can take that number, give it a little rub with magic statistical powder, and then it seems much smaller, and much less scary. Context is everything. So, we might say that most of us did not like statisticians much (sorry), then we came to love them, and perhaps now we are developing a need for them. If we don’t like what one statistician tells us, then the answer is simple: ask another statistician. In time we may drift into the land of second opinion. As with all complexity there always seems to be plenty of room for argument, and in the court of public opinion there is always a choice of expert witnesses.

Let’s not forget that statistics can be simple sometimes. Where simple numbers are concerned we usually think of two things: how big is it, and which way is it going? We then might ask, how fast is it growing, or is it getting smaller, faster? What is the rate of change? In the case of the world population number we might also ask, how will it fit? In the time it took me to write this article the world population grew by nearly eight thousand people. The world population today is now around 7.85 billion people, with an average annual birth rate more than twice the death rate. In the first 20 weeks of 2020 enough people were born to re-populate France, and there was net planetary increase large enough in that time to re-populate Morocco.

You might then wonder if we have enough polycarbonate material supply and enough lasers to engrave identity cards for all these new planetary inhabitants. If you follow the identity industry then you might also ask, “do we have enough biometric technology to enroll all these new people so that their identities can be respected, protected and nurtured as they become global citizens?”

Even before you get to these powerful identity technologies you might ask whether the amazing occurrence of a birth even gets noticed, or does it just stay “a statistic”. One of the most powerful alliances in today’s identity industry, even before the high technology of identity cards and biometrics, is the combination of Civil Registration and Vital Statistics,, or CRVS as it was christened by the United Nations in its collaborative efforts with the World Health Organization.

CRVS technologies look to marry together the capture of both accurate statistical data around birth and death (first and foremost), then to establish for a birth the biographical context of that identity. To give it a place in the world that is recorded for others to see and respect. This changes more than numbers. By using technology to extend society’s ability to capture, record, connect, and validate births and their contexts, then a birth becomes both an accurate number for future planning and an identity with some guarantee of future respect.

CRVS therefore forms a foundation for all other programs, where identity needs to be established. It acts as a single source of truth to which all other schemes can connect to validate an individual’s history.
With this population growth we see a fast-growing case for politicians to build their case for more CRVS: translating statistics into better infrastructure and economic planning. Building new foundations for citizen identity at the same time offers a strong marriage based on mutual interests, and with a more promising future than the average date secured by a “statistician” on a dating app.

For information on CRVS, read our brochure.