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A workshop on the use of Big Data for official statistics was held in Dublin Castle on 16 April 2014. There were approximately 40 participants in the room and following via web conference.

The aim of the workshop was to present the project on Big Data, overseen by the High-Level Group for the Modernisation of Official Statistics (HLG), and to launch the "Sandbox" environment.

The workshop was chaired by Joe Treacy of the Central Statistics Office, Ireland.

The first presentation was by Steven Vale of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, and outlined the role of the HLG and the background to the Big Data project.

The second presentation was by Niall Wilson of the Irish Centre for High-End Computing (ICHEC), outlining the role of ICHEC and the technical facilities made available for the Sandbox

The outcomes of the workshop were that:

  • The Sandbox is open to all interested statistical organisations (at least 10 organisations have signed up)
  • A task team, facilitated by the UNECE, will coordinate activities, define the rules, modalities and goals, and disseminate results
  • A face-to-face meeting was proposed, mainly for training purposes
  • The sandbox environment is not designed to be secure enough for data considered to be statistically confidential
  • Participants are encouraged to upload Big Data sets that they are already using, that are non-confidential. Synthetic data are also welcome
  • Big Data sets in the sandbox should be language-independent where possible
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