Why good data-keeping is important


IT seems not much effort has been put into ensuring that there is a centralised data management system in place to provide government with important statistics for evidence-based planning and development.
Information, statistics and other useful data make planning for the future easier.
For any successful country to navigate through the challenges and pitfalls of economic and social growth it is essential for the those in power to have at their disposal a set of reliable figures on which to refer to when choosing the course the nation should take for the benefit of all its citizens.
But these figures and trends should not just chart the changes that occur over a certain period of time but should be continually updated and made relevant for the times.
Take for example population growth, or the infant mortality rates or rates of rural to urban drift and to that end the numbers of the voting populations and what the demographics are for that population.
This information is crucial for nearly every government department in order for it to forecast change and deal with it in an efficient manner and one that will ensure long-term growth or, in the worst case scenario, control and inhibit negative impacts of the said change.
The many issues regarding the last election on the electoral roll would not have come up had data been collected swiftly and added into the system.
A lot had been said about centralising the national identification (NID) system to enrol voters and avoid the chaos experienced in the last election.
The NID system will not only be for election purposes but be used to access various government services.
All efforts, time and resources should be focused on ensuring the NID system works by sending out teams to the rural areas to register citizens, cards to be issued
The Government must adequately fund departments that are tasked to be collecting data – PNG Civil and Identify Registry Office, National Statistical Office and the PNG Electoral Commission.
If PNG had the NID system in place, then all PNGEC has to do is pull out the data from there and, using its own check and balance, start a new common roll.
With the NID system, the NID and NSO offices should become a reservoir of data that the state and the people can rely on for accurate, comprehensive and accessible information on a range of areas.
The need for reliable information in this country has always been a problem.
The last census was in 2011 but was mired in technical and logistical problems that one can barely accept the information gathered without thinking it is not a true indication of the population.
The introduction of the NID system is in large part a way to minimise the stress put on the state to carry out a nationwide survey every five or so years.
It may take a while to implement fully but it is worth pursuing.
Going forward, a mechanism must be in place at all health centres and hospitals to register all births and issue the child an ID number.
The responsibility of updating the NID system should fall on the data analyst who must do an audit of the system every six months.
Information is vital if this country is to function and grow as well.