The Session of the International Statistical Institute ISI was closed in Helsinki yesterday. The session was held at the Finlandia Hall from August 10 to 18.
"The most important aspect about the statistical world conference is that it brings together people working in this field. During the Session they can meet and exchange information about topical questions, which will advance the unity of statistics and statistical methods. This is important as economic activities, for example, are becoming increasingly global," says Jean-Louis Bodin, who was elected the new President of the ISI in Helsinki.
The conference included participants and presentations on academic statistics, statistical offices and business life, such as industrial and insurance companies.
"The spectrum of the subjects covered was wide and comprehensive, and thus it is difficult to bring to the fore just one central scientific result," states Mr Bodin, who is working at Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Communities.
Ilkka Mellin, Secretary General of the Helsinki Session, thinks the Session clearly showed that the need for statistical literacy has grown equally in different parts of the world.
"Both teachers of statistics and users of statistics need new skills. New teaching methods would help to improve understanding of the basics of statistics. Users of statistical data require better information about statistical methods for assessing the quality and usability of data," says Mr Mellin, who has had years of experience as a teacher of statistics at the University of Helsinki.
Level of information technology high
The Helsinki Session had the highest number of participants in the history of the International Statistical Institute. According to Marcel van der Broecke, Director of the ISI Permanent Office in the Netherlands, the ISI world conference in Helsinki attained a totally new service level in information technology.
"The papers presented were available on CD-ROM, the Session had an electronic notice board and an internal e-mail system and Internet pages were updated all the time," lists Mr van der Broecke. Abstracts of the presentations were available on the Internet in advance and they will remain there even after the Session to give researchers easy access to the works of their colleagues.
The ISI 99 Session had visitors from as many as 103 countries. The participants thought the Finlandia Hall was a good conference venue and commended the smooth arrangement of the Session. The cleanness and peacefulness of Helsinki, extensive public transport and people's helpfulness and good knowledge of English positively surprised many conference guests.
All in all, 2,100 persons participated in the Helsinki Session. The highest numbers of foreign visitors came from the United States, Italy and Japan. About 600 Finns also took advantage of the opportunity to hear about the most recent developments in the science and field of statistics in different parts of the world.
The next ISI world conferences will be held in Seoul in 2001 and in Berlin in 2003.
The Session's homepage on the Internet:
Jussi Melkas, tel. +358 9 1734 3200,
Virpi Viertola, tel. +358 9 1734 3325