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Modernizing data collection enhances resilience of statistical offices in times of crisis

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A virtual UNECE workshop concludes today in which experts on surveys, censuses and alternative data collection methods have revealed their brand-new learning about the best ways to maintain core data collection, and collect newly-demanded data, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The need for statistics isn’t put on hold during a national or international crisis—in fact demand increases, as decision-makers rely on numbers to guide their next moves. National statistical offices (NSOs) are experienced in maintaining business continuity in the face of adversity, be it hurricanes, earthquakes, civil unrest or political upheaval. But never before have so many NSOs had to deal with a situation that has placed such enormous and wide-ranging restrictions on their ability to collect data. The businesses that provide economic and labour force data have been closed; the staff that conduct surveys and analyze data have been locked-down in their homes, with new staff hired and trained online; survey-takers and respondents have had to observe new and changing health protection rules such as social distancing and wearing personal protective equipment; and supply chains have been disrupted for the basic items needed to gather data, such as paper for printed questionnaires or tablets for electronic data gathering.

Maintaining essential data collection

From the very beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the official statistics community has recognized how crucial it is to maintain data collection. Users of official statistics, from banks to businesses and from politicians to school pupils, still expect to be able to look up basic figures such as GDP, population, migration, unemployment. They expect these figures to be reliable and comparable with those they used before the pandemic. And they expect them to reflect the new realities of the current situation, such as current unemployment and earnings figures.

Presenters in this week’s UNECE workshop outlined the lengths they have gone to to keep gathering data. In Mexico, the pandemic struck as the country’s census was underway. New social distancing rules meant some census enumerators had to call out questions to respondents through their windows. In the Netherlands, an online portal was developed and tested at speed to gather data from businesses without traditional surveys. Ireland, Italy and Poland have employed a variety of techniques to communicate with respondents to secure their vital responses to surveys, from sending postcards and handwritten notes to increased use of telephone calls. Discussions revealed that the more advanced an NSO was before the pandemic in their move towards modern modes of data collection (electronic devices, Internet responses, video interviewing and so on), the easier it was for them to make the changes required by the Covid restrictions.

Collecting new data to measure new phenomena

The world has changed in countless ways since the onset of the pandemic. Responding to these changes requires information about things that previously were not measured—or at least not by national statistical offices. NSOs have found themselves at the centre of nationwide efforts to collect, coordinate and disseminate statistics on the virus itself—cases, tests, hospital admissions, mortality rates. And new survey questions or whole new surveys have sprung up across UNECE countries to gather data about the impacts of working from home and school closures on mental health, gender-based violence and unpaid care work; the economic fallout of business closures and furloughs; and the envionmental impacts of reduced mobility and industrial activity.

Examples showcased in this week’s event included new questions on covid impacts in Finland’s Consumer Confidence Survey; and new modules in a plethora of surveys in Poland on science, technology, culture, tourism and civil society. In the United Kingdom, a Business Impact of Coronavirus Survey was developed and conducted every two weeks starting in early March.  

Long-term impacts on data collection

The UNECE programme on modernizing official statistics has for close to a decade supported countries in making a transition to using new modes of data collection, new data sources and new methods for integrating data from multiple sources. For many NSOs the pandemic has accelerated this transition, forcing the hands of cautious offices where the alternative may have been to stop collecting data altogether. The pace of change has been rapid, with one participant stating “we have had a greater impact in six months than in our whole careers so far”. While the panoply of new tools, techniques and statistical products may in time settle as the pandemic runs its course, the steps taken across the UNECE region in the direction of statistical modernization are undoubtedly permanent.

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Standards & Digital Transformation – Good Governance in a Digital Age

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In celebration of World Standards Day 2021, celebrated on 14 October every year, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) is pleased to announce the launch of a brochure, “Standards and Digital Transformation: Good Governance in the Digital Age”.

In the spirit of this year’s World Standards Day theme “Shared Vision for a Better World”, the brochure provides insights into the key drivers of the digital transformation and its implications for sustainable development, particularly people, prosperity and planet. Noting the rapid pace of change of the digital transformation, with the COVID-19 pandemic serving as an unanticipated accelerator, the brochure highlights the role of standards in digital transformation governance. It further considers the principles necessary for guiding the collaborative development of standards in the digital technology landscape to ensure that the technologies remain human-centered and aligned to the goals of sustainability.

This year’s World Standards Day theme highlights the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) representing a shared vision for peace and prosperity, for people and planet. Every SDG is a call for action, but we can only get there if we work together, and international standards offer practical solutions we can all stand behind.

This brochure is a summary of a publication set to be released in November 2021.

Download it here.

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AutoFlight presents V1500M – an autonomous passenger eVTOL aircraft

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Shaping the future of urban air mobility: The tech company AutoFlight shows an autonomous passenger eVTOL aircraft: the V1500M. It will change the face of personal air transportation. AutoFlight debuted its autonomous fixed-wing passenger electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (“eVTOL”) to the world at the China Airshow in Zhuhai.

With its sleek looks and innovative technology the V1500M doesn’t rely on runways and airports. It can vertically take-off and land anywhere anytime. Virtually any rooftop or flat surface becomes a vertiport. When it reaches a certain altitude, the power system turns on the dual prop pusher, so that V1500M is able to cruise at speeds of a fixed-wing airplane. And in low-altitude airspace, the all-electric design enables the aircraft to operate at a very low noise level. 

As the energy consumption in the fixed wing mode is much lower than in the multirotor mode the V1500M can fly much further than any pure multicoptor eVTOL.

Being able to fly without a pilot, the V1500M’s uses eight lifting motors to take off and land vertically like a multi-rotor aircraft, and fly as far as 250 km when carrying up to four passengers. At the moment, a safety pilot is still mandatory. Yet as technology advances and regulations become increasingly refined, that space can later be allocated to another passenger or extra luggage. 

“The V1500M is a milestone – not only for AutoFlight but also for the global development of the urban air mobility“, so Tian Yu, founder and CEO of AutoFlight. “Our company is committed to developing safe and reliable passenger eVTOL aircraft and helping to create a better mobility future.”

In terms of safety, AutoFlight with its rich experience in aircraft design, manufacturing and its dedication to make reliable flying cars, following aviation industry’s standards. The lifting rotor’s and prop pusher’s redundant power system guarantees that the aircraft could hover safely when two of the rotors malfunction. In case of one propeller failure, the other still ensures safe flight and landing. The V1500M also has an whole-aircraft parachute, which is designed to act as the last line of safety to protect passengers so they enjoy safe flying.

V1500M will accomplish its first flight in the near future. The goal is to certify the aircraft with the aviation authorities by 2024.

Tian Yu: “AutoFlight will keep contributing to the eVTOL industry. Through building safe, efficient, systematic R&D and AC processes, leveraging domestic and international resources and establishing partnerships across industries, AutoFlight strives to accelerate the practical implementation of eVTOLs in commercial applications and lead us into a better future with UAM.”  

With its tradition and the experience, AutoFlight aims to create cost-effective, safe, and reliable eVTOL

AutoFlight is one of the earliest tech companies in China to start making autonomous eVTOL, including large payload logistic and autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Logistic UAVs were introduced first. They have now accumulated over 10,000 hours of flight time and been tested in all kinds of extreme conditions.

AutoFlight owns proprietary intellectual property rights in key technologies such as flight control systems, electrical systems or other core components. They have obtained over 200 domestic and international patents for its self-developed modules including highly efficient electric motors, electronic control systems, and durable lightweight carbon-fiber composite materials. 

“Following our cargo-to-passenger-strategy we go ahead step-by-step but very straight forward“, says Tian Yu. 

V1500M’s Key Specifications
Aircraft length10.3 m
Wingspan12.8 m
Fuselage height3.1 m
Maximum take-off weight (MTOW)1500 kg
Typical seating 3 – 4 
Cruise speed200 km/h
Flight range (fully seated)250 km

About AutoFlight

AutoFlight is a global high-tech startup, born in China, specializing in developing and manufacturing autonomous aerial vehicles. AutoFlight’s mission is to provide safe and reliable aerial logistic systems and urban air mobility solutions for human society. By leveraging new technologies in aviation, new material, artificial intelligence, autonomous driving, and 5G, AutoFlight actively drives development in eVTOL (electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing) industry.

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Critical Decarbonization Technologies Need at Least “10x” Investment

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Breakthrough technologies such as hydrogen-based fuels, bioenergy and carbon-capture storage solutions are needed to hit the global goal of zero emissions by 2050.

To scale these technologies and take them to market, at least a tenfold increase in investment is needed, according to the How to Finance Industry Net-Zero report.

Released by the World Economic Forum and Oliver Wyman, the report outlines how to address the supply-and-demand-side gap and take these technologies to the next level.

Part of the Forum’s Financing the Transition to a Net-Zero Future Initiative, the report brings together input from over 50 financial institutions and the public sector. Their focus is on how to steer capital to breakthrough technologies and drive a more sustainable future.

Key findings:

· The innovative blending of capital supported by an enabling ecosystem is needed, where different sources of public and private capital are brought together in technology-specific financing blueprints. To do this effectively, mechanisms that activate collaboration among multiple stakeholders are necessary.

· Transformative business models are essential, where industry participants and capital providers work together to establish new contracts and ways of doing business to increase the probability of commercial success.

· Targeted public intervention is critical, focused on the design of incentive schemes rewarding early movers adopting innovative technological solutions and de-risking schemes to mitigate investment risks unique to these innovative solutions.

The challenge ahead is significant, but not insurmountable,” said Derek Baraldi, Head of Sustainable Finance and Investing, at the World Economic Forum. “If executed thoughtfully, the mobilization of finance to breakthrough technologies presents a tremendous investment opportunity. This study found that there is a real appetite from industry for thoughtful partnership and collaboration between private and public capital providers.”

“Organisations have announced ambitious pledges to finance the transition to net-zero but the progress made to date is not enough,” added Ted Moynihan, Managing Partner and Global Head of Industries, Oliver Wyman. “There is a huge gap in financing of early-stage decarbonization technologies, which will be absolutely critical to achieving our targets from 2030 to 2050. With more research breakthroughs coming, we are now in a vital moment to accelerate the mobilization of capital towards decarbonization technologies in hard-to-abate industries.”

By proposing an initial set of financing approaches and de-risking solutions, the report seeks to initiate an important discussion on how to rapidly accelerate the deployment of capital towards breakthrough technologies.

The report launched at the Mission Possible Partnership event Supercharging Industrial Decarbonisation. It brought together public and private sectors from shipping, aviation, and steel. The Mission Possible Partnership will share learnings across these critical industrial sectors and present sector-specific blueprints for industrial decarbonisation.

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