Statistics Netherlands (CBS) starts unique initiative for Big Data research

cbsWith the launch of a Center for Big Data Statistics (CBDS), CBS is initiating cooperation of an unprecedented scale in the field of Big Data. The CBDS involves national and international parties from government, the business world, science and education all
working together in the area of Big Data technology and methodology for the production of official statistics. The CBDS is launched officially on 27 September 2016.

“Faster, better and more detailed”
As stated by Director General at CBS Dr Tjark Tjin-A-Tsoi, “Big Data offers the potential
to make statistics production faster, better and more detailed, at lower costs and with
less administrative burden. Many organisations are currently investing in Big Data
technology. However, producing high quality statistics on the basis of Big Data is not all
that easy; and safeguarding both the quality and the continuity is a great deal more
“CBS the designated authority”
For decades, CBS has acted as the data hub for both policy and science. The
organisation sees opportunities for innovation in statistics and the statistical process
using Big Data technology. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte: “As far as I am concerned,
Big Data creates big opportunities. CBS is the appropriate authority in the Netherlands,
but also internationally, to take on a pioneer role in this area.”Prime Minister Rutte will be present on 27 September to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with South Korea’s official statistical organisation Kostat on their participation in the CBDS. Director General Tjark Tjin-A-Tsoi of CBS and Commissioner Yoo Gyeongjoon of KoStat will enter into a more solid mutual agreement during the economic mission in South Korea from 26 to 28 September, led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte and State Secretary for Economic Affairs Martijn van Dam. Collaboration with KoStat will focus primarily on the methodological and technological aspects of using Big Data for statistical purposes.
Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs Henk Kamp is equally supportive of the CBDS
initiative. Mr. Kamp spoke of ‘pride’ regarding the CBDS launch as CBS made a
preannouncement during the opening of the Brightlands Smart Services Campus on 12
September in Heerlen (speech in Dutch only) .
Efficiency improvements
With the new centre, CBS aims to enhance timeliness of statistics production and boost
the production of new statistics while also adding upgrading existing ones, for example
by adding regional or sectoral levels. Tjin-A-Tsoi: ‘We will be able to deliver even better
policy support while also aiming for significant efficiency improvements as we can
achieve fully automated integration of data sources and flows.’

International partner network
The CBDS will kick off on 27 September with an international network of partners.
These organisations have indicated they wish to enter into collaboration with CBS for
ongoing development of Big Data technology, thus helping to produce faster, better
and more detailed statistics.

Aside from KoStat, the following parties have been contracted:
• Dutch Central Bank (DNB)
• World Bank
• Ministry of Economic Affairs
• Microsoft
• Deloitte
• Capgemini Nederland
• Dell-EMC
• Province of Limburg
• Brightlands Smart Services Campus
• Maastricht University
• Leiden University
• Centre for Innovation Leiden University
• Amsterdam University
• Dutch Open University
• Twente University
• Michigan University
• Maryland University
• Zuyd University
• Fontys University
• SURFSara
• Jheronimus Academy of Data Science
• HumanityX
• Eurostat
• Statistics Sweden
• Italian National Institute for Statistics
• Statistics Estonia
• Statistics Finland
• UK Office for National Statistics
• Statistical Office of the Republic of

Mr. Klaas Knot, President of the Dutch Central Bank (DNB) and collaborating partner in
the CBDS, explains: “It makes very good sense for CBS and DNB to work closely
together in this challenging area as well. Both ‘rapid’ indicators, for example on prices,
and higher levels of detail in information are becoming increasingly important to
central banks.”

Another party in the Netherlands who is presently very active in the area of Big Data is
TNO. Paul de Krom, CEO at TNO, on partnership within CBDS: “CBS is an innovative
player in the field of statistics and has the ambition to supplement traditional survey
data with Big Data. At TNO we are currently studying ways to make Big Data applicable
to industry and society within our programme “Making Sense of Big Data”. TNO is
therefore pleased to collaborate with CBS and work towards reliable real time
indicators on the basis of Big Data, which will enhance decision-making in both the
private and the public sector.”

Big Data and sustainable development goals
In consultation with its partners, CBS will be working on a wide variety of projects at
the CBDS. Among these are the mapping of economic growth, security, health, the
labour market and sustainable development goals. Director General Tjin-A-Tsoi: “Topics
such as broad-based prosperity and the sustainable development goals will play a
distinct role at CBDS, since creating the hundreds of indicators involved requires the
mobilisation of Big Data.”
Hugo von Meijenfeldt, National Coordinator Implementation Global Goals for the
Netherlands, comments: “The UN sustainable development goals are directing
development toward sustainability world-wide, thus also in the Netherlands. I am
pleased with CBS’ ambitions and I see real added value in the mobilisation of Big Data
as it makes progress on these important goals measurable.”
For the World Bank, too, measuring progress on sustainable development goals is
essential. Says World Bank Executive Director Frank Heemskerk: “Intensified
cooperation between CBS and the World Bank will result in the development of more
solid data with which to measure poverty, inequality and progress on other sustainable
development goals. High quality statistics will substantiate which sectors require the
highest investments in order to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable progress.”

Academic partners
The universities of Maastricht, Leiden, Amsterdam and Twente, the Open University
and the Jheronimus Academy of Data Science (JADS) are all academic partners in CBDS
from the onset. Emile Aarts, the Rector Magnificus of Tilburg University and one of the
initiators of the JADS explains: “Big Data is becoming widespread in all levels of society.
This association will help corroborate newly acquired knowledge in the area of Big
During the processing of Big Data into statistics, CBS places privacy to the fore <link
naar artikel Corporate Nieuws>. Privacy is guaranteed at CBS, as again became evident
recently when CBS received the Privacy Audit Proof Certificate from Price Waterhouse
Coopers (PwC). PwC conducted an audit based on the official Dutch Data Protection
Authority standards, concluding that CBS complies with all relevant standards.
The Center for Big Data Statistics will operate from within CBS offices in Heerlen and
The Hague. Project teams including CBS staff and representatives from partner
organisations will avail of the facilities there while jointly working on Big Data projects.
Innovation portal
Updates on projects around Big Data will be reported by CBS on its Innovation portal, where users will also be able to
provide feedback. The projects in question are experiments which are not yet mature
as to be included in the production of mainstream statistics, but which do offer
promising results.
Urban Data Centers
Last 22 September, CBS launched yet another initiative on statistics production in
cooperation with Dutch municipalities by opening the first CBS Urban Data Center in
Eindhoven <link Engels volgt>. The Urban Data Centers will start by implementing
innovations that form the output of the Center for Big Data Statistics. The city of
Heerlen has meanwhile decided it will set up an Urban Data Center in cooperation with
CBS, which is due to take shape on the Brightlands Smart Services Campus.
The Brightlands Smart Services Campus is another partner in the CBDS. CEO at
Brightlands Smart Services Campus Mr. Peter Verkoulen announces: “I am very happy
to be in a strategic partnership with CBS, our ‘next-door neighbour’ in Heerlen. The
CBDS initiative is an enormous boost for the activities on our campus. Students,
academics, start-ups and other companies and institutions, everyone is eager to start
contributing to this initiative.”