Many, if not most, big data are connected to the lives of citizens: their movements, opinions, and relations. Arguably big data and citizens are inseparable: from smartphones, meters, fridges and cars to internet platforms, the data of digital technologies is the data of citizens. In addition to raising political and ethical issues of privacy, confidentiality and data protection, this calls for rethinking relations to citizens in the production of data for statistics if they are to be trusted by citizens. We outline an approach that involves co-producing data, where citizens are engaged in all stages of statistical production, from the design of a data production platform to the interpretation and analysis of data. While raising issues such as data quality and reliability, we argue co-production can potentially mitigate problems associated with the re-purposing of big data. We argue that in a time of ‘alternative facts’, what constitutes legitimate knowledge and expertise are major political sites of contention and struggle and require going beyond defending existing practices towards inventing new ones. In this context, we argue that the future of official statistics not only depends on inventing new data sources and methods but also mobilising the possibilities of digital technologies to establish new relations with citizens.

citizen science, co-production, experimentalism, privacy-by-design, smart statistics
Sociology of Economics (jel A14), Field Experiments (jel C93), Social Innovation (jel O35), Government Policy (jel O38),
Economie et Statistique: Special issue on Big Data, Statistics and Economics
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Ruppert, E.S, Grommé, F, Ustek-Spilda, F, & Cakici, B. (2018). Citizen Data and Trust in Official Statistics. Economie et Statistique: Special issue on Big Data, Statistics and Economics, (505), 171–184. doi:10.24187/ecostat.2018.505d.1971