On 27 September 2016, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) launched the Center for Big Data Statistics, at which CBS researchers and data scientists work together with national and international parties on the development of new statistics sourced by big data. The CBS innovation portal was launched at the same time. On this portal, CBS presents its services and products in development in the field of innovation. This includes big data, open data and plans for innovation. Aim of the portal is to assess opinions among potential users. Innovation manager Maarten Emons: ‘Feedback from our relations is very much welcomed. Using this portal, we are entering into dialogue with our users and show them that at CBS, innovating is done together.’
Featured on the front page of the innovation portal are the various CBS experiments. Behind every image, visitors can find a description of a product in development. Emons: ‘Whatever is there can be evaluated and used by anyone else.’ What sort of experiments and semi-finished products are there? ‘An example is StatMiner. With the database application ‘StatLine Open Data’, a vast amount of CBS data becomes available to policymakers, journalists, citizens, companies and researchers. The information contained in these figures is not always uncovered entirely. StatMiner will allow users to explore the data in a visual manner and quickly pick up interesting information and patterns.’
Another feature presented on the innovation portal is the CBS Happiness Meter. It shows the ‘happiness score’ of Dutch people as based on the human wellbeing index. Anyone can calculate his or her own personal happiness score by using the infographic. The third innovative product is the statistic traffic intensities on Dutch national motorways. This was the first study to be based completely on big data. Forming the basis were vehicle counts at over 20,000 fixed measuring points on Dutch national roads outside built-up areas. CBS has produced an interactive visual of the statistic and is asking users for their opinions.
According to project leader Marian Kagie, the innovation portal will be supplemented regularly with new products in development or products nearing completion. ‘Actually, the portal is not merely intended to allow feedback on CBS products. Through this portal we are also seeking a dialogue with external partners with the purpose of cooperating.’ Communication advisor Patricia van Raam: ‘The innovation portal, which also includes articles on new innovative products and services launched over the past year, is part of the CBS website and is being updated continuously. From here on, we will be seeking wide media coverage of the portal and the products featured on it through the Center for Big Data Statistics, the CBS corporate news app, Twitter and Facebook.’
According to Kagie, the idea for an innovation portal came about after a series of brainstorming sessions with members of ‘Young CBS’. ‘This is an association of enthusiastic, young CBS employees with bright ideas for the organisation. The idea of the portal was picked up by the innovation department at CBS and further developed together with other colleagues.’ For a leading institute, isn’t there a risk in showcasing products which are not finished? ‘Not so’, says Emons. ‘The transparency in fact makes us more reliable. The existing products are known by the outside world as being solid. We show our strength by being open about our plans for further improvement and innovation. We have just seen the first responses coming in.’