The ISI World Statistics Congress 2017, held in Marrakech/Morocco, 16-21 July 2017 gathered more than 2000 participants from all over the world and all areas of statistics (in particular academia, business and official statistics). With its more than 300 sessions the ISI Congress covered all aspects of statistics and ensured cross fertilization between disciplines.

An Invited Paper Session titled How to Geo-Enable Official Statistics? – the global Statistical Geospatial Framework’ referred to geospatial activities in official statistics and to the integration of statistical and geospatial information.

The session was organised by Mr. Ekkehard Petri (Eurostat) and chaired by Ms. Susanne Schnorr-Bäcker (Federal Statistical Office of Germany).

Distinguished speakers from nearly all continents’ official statistics and members of the United Nations Expert Group on the Integration of Statistical and Geospatial Information (UN EG-ISGI) reported on their major activities with regard to the Global Statistical Geospatial Framework (GSGF).

Fig 1: Global Statistical Geospatial Framework: 5 Principles (Source: M. Smedes, M. Brady: The UN global Geospatial Framework in Practice – the Australian Experience, paper for ISI 2017 in Marrakech, Morocco)


This framework was adopted by the UN Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) in August 2016 and endorsed by the UN Statistical Commission.

Mr. Michael Smedes (Australian Bureau of Statistics – ABS, General Manager of the Statistical Transformation and Implementation Program) referred to Australian Statistics’ way of producing and releasing place based statistical information. This approach allowing a seamless integration of administrative, statistical and spatial information resources is in line with the GSGF and its 5 principles (see figure 1).

Ms. Sharthi Laldaparsad (Statistics South Africa – StatSSA, Chief Director – Policy research and analysis) reported on the longstanding experience of her office in generating spatial data and how it contributes to a regional expert group of UN Economic Council for Africa (UNECA) aiming at establishing a strategy for integrating geo-spatial information in line with the UN Global Statistical Geospatial Framework (GSGF).

Mr. Rolando Ocampo Alcántar (Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía of Mexico – INEGI, Vice-President of the Governing Board of INEGI and Co-chair of the UN EG-ISGI) showed in his presentation Mexico’s efforts of the integration of statistics’ and geographic information for evidence based decisions and policy making in particular in combination with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development using the Global Statistical Geospatial Framework.

Ms. Marie Haldorson (Statistics Sweden – SCB, Director of the Regions and Environment Department) illustrated in her presentation the possibilities and needs of place based data for the next round of censuses 2020/21 and the UN SDGs with special emphasis on the European specifics in particular the work of the European Forum of Geostatistics (EFGS) and the various GEOSTAT projects for the European Statistical System.


Fig 2: Speakers and chair (Mr. Rolando Ocampo, Ms. Susanne Schnorr-Bäcker, Ms. Marie Haldorson, Mr. Michael Smedes, Ms. Sharthi Laldaparsad)


The following discussion and comments showed that the GSGF is of high importance not only for statistics but also for academia, business and finally, the society as a whole. In our times with information becoming a crucial factor for policy making, billions of high speed pieces of information available at any moment, and appropriate techniques and technologies for processing the data, the GSGF is fundamental in structuring the data, making the necessary connections, and organising the production processes of statistics. And what is even more important, as the presentations demonstrated, it is practicable.

All presentations and papers of this very interesting session can be downloaded from here. For more information, contact