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1.1 Metadata strategy

Please note this paper is based on a 2010 METIS paper:

Organization Details

1. UNIDO was set up in 1966 and became a specialized agency of the United Nations in 1985. As part of the United Nations common system, UNIDO has responsibility for promoting industrialization throughout the developing world, in cooperation with its 172 Member States. Its headquarters are in Vienna, and it is represented in 35 developing countries. This representation and a number of specialised field offices, for investment and technology promotion and other specific aspects of its work, give UNIDO an active presence in the field.

2. The Service Module "Industrial Governance and Statistics " assists developing countries and economies in transition to monitor, benchmark and analyse their industrial performance and capabilities, and on that basis toformulate, implement and monitor strategies, policies and programmes to improve the contribution of industry to productivity growth and the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

3. Building capabilities in industrial statistics: UNIDO provides technical assistance to introduce best practice methodologies and software systems to monitor and assess productivity performance and use it as a guide for policy-making; and enhance the quality and consistency of the industrial statistics databases so as to provide meaningful inputs for assessing productivity and industrial performance.

4. Most developing countries lack the capacity to systematically gauge productivity performance in such a way as to be able to use it as an effective tool for policy and decision-making in general. Through this service module UNIDO aids developing countries and countries with economies in transition to build capacities in this field by providing technical assistance to:

  • Introduce best practice methodologies and software systems to monitor and assess productivity performance and use it as a guide for policy-making; and
  • Enhance the quality and consistency of the industrial statistics databases so as to provide meaningful inputs for assessing productivity and industrial performance.

Figure 1: UNIDO Organization Chart: Statistical activities are carried out by the Statistical Unit of the Research and Statistics Branch PCF/RST/STA 

5. Statistical activities of UNIDO are carried out by the Research and Statistics Branch. 

Overall strategy and metadata management principles:

6. The conceptual development of the UNIDO metadata subsystem was initiated in 1999 with the aim of automation of information production (data and metadata) using latest management technology. Having in mind the inherent structural complexity of the data bodies involved, only a comprehensive metadata-based system re-design approach has been considered promising at all. Thus, the project favoured an integrated data and data documentation (metadata) framework emphasizing that, while allowing scrutiny of data documentation (statistical metadata) both individually and jointly with statistical data, any statistical data access always entails the retrieval of associated metadata without demanding specific inquiry measures or actions. This way a rather tight interrelation of data and metadata is both enforced and assured by purely technical means. However, as its major precondition, this principle presupposes a homogenous representation of all pieces of data documentation in order to enable uniform data and documentation access procedures.

7. Moreover, as a change in data representation must not disrupt established UNIDO data services, a smooth migration policy is called for, leaving interface requirements of downstream systems and data usage almost untouched. Implying such a great effort to UNIDO, an expected side-benefit of redesigning the INDSTAT system is its potential applicability to further operational data management areas in need of refashion.

8. The concrete design and implementation of this subsystem was realized as a part of an integrated data and metadata system under the name Integrated Statistical Development Environment (ISDE). The development of ISDE was performed in a stepwise manner in the context of a migration project of the complete UNIDO statistical databases from an IBM mainframe to a client/server platform. Further in this document will be given details about the migration project itself, its current status and its relation to the newly developed statistical applications and ICT infrastructure.

9. The basic metadata management principles are backed by the UNIDO Quality Assurance Framework which is targeted to ensure that the statistical activities of UNIDO are relevant and the data compiled and disseminated are accurate, complete within the defined scope and coverage, timely, comparable in terms of internationally recommended methods and classification standards and internally coherent to variables included in the datasets. While these generally accepted, broad dimensions of quality of statistical data may be defined in each NSO's own quality assurance framework, UNIDO makes maximum effort that data produced from the statistical operation undertaken with the UNIDO technical cooperation are accurate, internationally comparable and coherent. UNIDO has been a forerunner among international organizations in using a Statistical Metadata System as a tool for observing and evaluation the quality of statistical data, especially for completeness and cross-country comparability. For further details see Yamada (2004) and Upadhyaya (2008).

10. Following the International recommendations for Industrial Statistics, the development of metadata is given a high priority and their dissemination is considered an integral part of dissemination of industrial statistics. Moreover, it is recommended that in consideration of the integrated approach to compilation of economic statistics development of a coherent system and a structured approach to metadata across all areas of economic statistics be adopted, focusing on improving their quantity and coverage. Further, the dissemination of statistical data and metadata using web technology and SDMX standards is recommended as a way to reduce the international reporting burden (the Statistical Data and Metadata Exchange (SDMX) technical standards and content-oriented guidelines provide common formats and nomenclatures for exchange and sharing of statistical data and metadata using modern technology).

11. An essential requirement was that the metadata is available in three languages (English, French and Spanish). This allows to pre-fill each questionnaire in the preferred language for the country and than to process it accordingly.

12. The integrated system is based on a formal framework, described in detail in Froeschl et al. (2002),
Froeschl and Yamada (2000). The proposed information system architecture comprises two cubes, one for statistical data and another for the metadata interrelated by a set of shared dimensions