Last week, the Office for National Statistics hosted an annual conference for stakeholders and researchers interested in its 'Beyond 2011' programme looking at options for the future of the census in England and Wales. This featured a number of presentations from ONS staff reporting on progress with research and the planned future programme, as well as academics looking at research issues and some other countries reporting on their own plans.
The RSS Getstats campaign aims to improve statistical literacy across the nation, from those in parliament to the children in our schools. But an important plank in this strategy is to also improve the understanding of those working in the media, who are often the brokers between the statisticians and the wider public.
On 29 April, the RSS, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) and the UK Statistics Authority held a joint conference on poverty statistics. Around 40 key figures from government, academia and civil society were invited to attend. The event was co-chaired by RSS executive director Hetan Shah, and RSS honorary officer for user engagement, Jon McGinty.
Every now and again we are reminded how important statistics are to us in stark practical terms. A study undertaken by the Clinical Trial Service Unit at Oxford University has been looking at how important radiotherapy is to patients in the early stages of breast cancer. No patient would undertake a course of radiotherapy lightly and until now there has been uncertainty about whether cancer that has spread to just one, two or three lymph nodes under the arm would gain any benefit from radiotherapy after surgery.
Following the National Statistician’s recommendation on how the 2021 census should be conducted after the conclusion of a national consultation, the RSS hosted a meeting to explore how the planning of the 2021 census over the coming years will come together.
Our event - 'Scotland’s Referendum: Statistical Perspectives', hosted by the Glasgow and Edinburgh local groups of RSS and BIS, was held at Edinburgh University on March 26. It was introduced by the Vice principal, Charlie Jeffrey, and comprised four speakers each tackling different areas (health, economic, production and dissemination of statistics, analysis of voting trends) relevant to the coming referendum on Scottish independence. A large audience of over 100 attended for the duration.
Modern computer generated graphics are creating wonderful visuals that illustrate complex statistics in easily understandable and beautiful ways. What can be achieved with visual technology was recently shown in Hans Rosling’s TV programme, 'Don't Panic: the truth about population', through holographic on-stage visualisations. But contemporary infographics, heat maps, scatter plots and cartograms all owe a debt to the early pioneers who creatively used a visual medium to communicate the lessons of science.
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