The end of this month traditionally brings celebrations, for people of all religions and those of none, and the chance for family and friends to meet up. Except that may not be the case in these uncertain COVID times, and many families are still in a position of not having met for some months.
Last Christmas Pauline and I had a quiet Christmas Day together, a little different from what we had planned. We are also planning a family Christmas this year, so will see whether our ordering a turkey proves to be a wise investment, or wishful thinking.
Let me offer some thoughts on celebration and families.
It’s traditional at this time to look back over the year and celebrate what has gone well.
It’s traditional at this time to look back over the year and celebrate what has gone well. For the statistical community there is no doubt that despite the appalling COVID pandemic and its mishandling by some governments, it has raised the profile of statistics, and also showed its potential – in so many fields. Not just the stories we have told about the development of the pandemic, its impact on health services, the development of testing regimes and vaccination programmes; but the impact on human and economic behaviour, and the modelling of scenarios to help decision makers. As we look into the future we need to harvest the lessons from this, in terms of how statistics can continue to maintain their relevance in the public policy questions that continue to face the world – global warming, global inequalities, and the sustainable development goals. Statistics can tell the stories.
ISI also has its successes to celebrate. The World Statistics Congress was our first virtual Congress. Well done to all those who registered and made this the success that it was, and also thanks to those who turned this round at short notice from what was planned as an on-site event at The Hague. A second success was the inauguration of our on-line virtual courses. So successful that we shall be repeating them in 2022, and then under Xuming He’s leadership establishing a continuing programme of virtual courses on our web site.
The ISI is itself a family – a grouping of seven associations and the ISI itself, which together show the breadth and depth of statistics. Like all families we have our ups and downs, but we share common values and goals. A couple of months ago I met with the Association Presidents and we exchanged experiences of what was going well and how we can improve. I was pleased to hear about the developments with Association conferences and journals.
Families like to share things (or at least they should!) and there is already plenty of examples of what we do well together – such as the webinar programme. There is scope for looking to see how we can do more of this – sharing the hosting of our websites, sharing the technology platform for the WSC, the infrastructure for regional networks. I look forward to more of that in the months to come.
Can I take the opportunity to wish you and your families all the best and good health from the ISI Executive Committee for the approaching holiday season.