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“Open in Action” at the World Bank

Elisa Liberatori Prati's picture

The 9th annual Open Access Week kicks off this week and this year’s theme of “Open in Action” brings the information community together to celebrate the achievements of accessibility and openness.

The World Bank has initiated and contributed to many activities in support of Open Access over the years including:

• June 1997 - Launch of Documents and Reports (D&R). Previously known as World Development Sources (WDS), D&R contains more than 240,000 publicly available World Bank documents and enables the sharing of the institution's extensive knowledge base and operational documents.

April 2010 – Launch of the Open Data Initiative, making World Bank flagship databases and hundreds of other datasets freely available to the public.

July 2010 – Launch of Access to Information Policy (AI), a landmark shift regarding how and which information the World Bank makes available to the public. By setting the default classification to one of maximum disclosure (with a limited set of exceptions), tens of thousands of previously undisclosed information – including projects under preparation and implementation, analytic and advisory activities, and Board proceedings – are now available to the public through D & R. And there is an App for that too (the World Bank InfoFinder)!

August 2011 – Launch of Open Finances, presenting publicly-accessible data related to the Bank’s financials available in a social, interactive, visually compelling, and machine-readable format.

April 2012 – Launch of the Open Knowledge Repository (OKR), the Bank’s official Open Access repository that contains Bank publications since 2000. Prior publications are available to the public through D&R.

July 2012 – Launch of the Open Access Policy. The policy mandates Bank's publications and their associated research data to be made freely available, with no restrictions on use and reuse. It governs works published or funded by the Bank and works written by Bank staff and published externally.

July 2012 – Adoption of Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license allowing the public to freely share and adapt Bank publications with proper attribution to the Bank.

December 2013 – Adoption of the newly-created CC BY 3.0 IGO license for use by intergovernmental organizations to share research, data, and educational materials they produce.

How geospatial technology can help cities plan for a sustainable future

Xueman Wang's picture
In this video, representatives from the World Bank, GEF, and City of Johannesburg discuss the impact of geospatial tools on urban planning.

Many urban residents these days will find it hard to imagine a life without mobile apps that help us locate a restaurant, hail a cab, or find a subway station—usually in a matter of seconds. If geospatial technology and data already make our everyday lives this easier, imagine what they can do for our cities: for example, geospatial data on land-use change and built-up land expansion can provide for more responsive urban planning, while information on traffic conditions, road networks, and solid waste sites can help optimize management and enhance the quality of urban living.

The “urban geo-data gap”
However, information and data that provide the latest big picture on urban land and services often fail to keep up with rapid population growth and land expansion. This is especially the case for cities in developing countries—home to the fastest growing urban and vulnerable populations.

Five tools for capturing, manipulating, and visualizing data

Daniel Nogueira-Budny's picture
Data Literacy Bootcamp in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Photo: Usman Khaliq, iDT Labs

Increasing evidence suggests that, to improve accountability and promote evidence-based decision making, open access to data and data literacy skills are essential. While in-person educational opportunities can be limited in parts of the developing world, free educational tools are available online to boost data literacy skills.
In June 2016, Code for Africa, with support from the World Bank’s Open Government Global Solutions Group, held a Data Literacy Bootcamp in Freetown, Sierra Leone, for 55 participants, including journalists, civil society members, and private and public sector representatives. One of the Bootcamp’s primary objectives was to build data literacy skills to nurture the homegrown development of information and communication technologies (ICT) solutions to development problems.
Here are five tools Bootcamp participants employed to help capture, manipulate, and visualize data:

Discovering the Bank’s Archives: Conversation with a researcher

Elisa Liberatori Prati's picture

Giovanni Zanalda is director of the Duke University Center for International Studies/Global Areas.June 9 is International Archives Day, and I would like to mark this day by reflecting on the contribution of the World Bank Group Archives to the “memory” of the development community. As such, I am talking with Giovanni Zanalda, director of the Duke University Center for International Studies/Global Areas. Giovanni is a faculty member in the Departments of Economics and History at Duke and specializes in financial history, history of development, and emerging markets. He has been a user of the WBG Archives in different phases of his career and with different focuses, and we have asked him to share his user perspective.

World Bank’s Access to Information Policy— five+ years and going strong

Hannah George's picture

An active player in the transparency space, the World Bank just released its fifth Access to Information (AI) Annual Report. The report presents the evolution and progress of the Policy on Access to Information (the Policy) since it was launched on July 1, 2010, provides a variety of statistics, and highlights a range of transparency activities carried out in fiscal 2015. Since 2010, the Bank has pushed the frontiers to disclose more information and twice revised the Policy to keep abreast of evolving public demand—in 2013 to clarify declassification of certain Board transcripts, and in 2015 to align the treatment of the documents and records of the Board of Governors with the treatment of those of the Executive Directors. The following are select highlights from the past five years.
Enhanced information access. The Policy has provided the public with access to a broad range of historical and current information on operations, research, corporate matters, and Board decisions. The Bank has also received and responded to more than 3,000 access to information requests.  The number of requests declined from 700 in 2010 to 474 in 2015, due to the Bank’s proactive and systematic efforts to disclose information online. The main entry points to the Bank’s wealth of information are the Projects and Operations portal, which provides detailed information on lending operations, and the Documents and Reports repository, which contains more than 200,000 documents that are freely accessible to the public. Further, the Archives Holdings website offers a growing collection of digitized records dating to the 1940s.
Governance structure and appeals. The Policy has established two robust bodies to manage the appeals process—the AI Committee and the external AI Appeals Board. A new chair of the AI Committee was appointed last fall, Stefan Koeberle, Bank director of strategy, results and risk. In 2015, the membership of the AI Appeals Board was renewed with the selection of a new member and the re-appointment of two previous members. The number of appeals submitted to these bodies has been low, possibly indicating that proactive disclosure and the system for responding to requests are working well. The appeals mechanism ensures that the Bank implements the Policy effectively.

New data on Climate Investment Funds and their results

Martin Craig Hall's picture
Readers of this blog site will know that open data is data that can be freely used, re-used and redistributed – it’s legally open and technically open.  Readers of this blog may not know that the $8.3 billion Climate Investment Funds (CIF), are providing scaled-up financing through the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) to initiate transformational change toward climate-resilient, low-carbon development in 72 countries worldwide.  And this month, for the first time, the CIF is publishing open data on the results of our Clean Technology Fund (CTF) and our Scaling up Renewable Energy Program (SREP).

How open are official statistics?

Shaida Badiee's picture

This is a guest post from Shaida Badiee and Eric Swanson, co-founders of the NGO Open Data Watch, which works on a variety of initiatives at the intersection of Open Data and Official Statistics.

Although "open data" has been a popular rallying cry and many countries, states, even cities, have announced open data initiatives, open access to the important data produced by national statistical agencies remains, at best, limited.

To get a baseline measurement, Open Data Watch conducted in depth assessments of the statistics commonly produced by national statistical systems in 125 mostly low- and middle-income countries. Called the Open Data Inventory (ODIN), results are now available online at Global results are shown in Figure 1. In 2015 ODIN found only 10 national statistical offices (NSOs) that satisfied more than 50 percent of the criteria for data coverage and openness. Mexico, at 68 percent was the highest scoring country followed by Mongolia, Moldova, and Rwanda. Uzbekistan at 3 percent was the lowest.

An interactive table of all country scores is available here:


New online resource spotlights debt statistics news and trends

Parul Agarwal's picture
We're thrilled to share the news about our brand new Online Quarterly Bulletin, which features debt statistics news, trends, and events. Laid out in the format of an e-newsletter, this quarter's issue focuses on:
  • Debt statistics products, coverage, and methodologies
  • External debt trends of 2015
  • International debt statistics-related activities and summaries
One area we'd like to highlight is the interconnection of the many types of debt statistics that the World Bank collects, manages, and disseminates.
The World Bank collects annual external debt statistics through the World Bank Debt Reporting System (DRS) and publishes it annually in the International Debt Statistics (IDS) publication. This annual data is complemented by our quarterly external and public debt statistics captured through the Quarterly External Debt Statistics (QEDS) database and the Public Sector Debt (PSD) database.  To help illustrate this interconnection, we've created the below graphic.


New time series of global subnational population estimates launched

Dereje Ketema Wolde's picture

We've just launched a new, pilot global subnational population database featuring time series population estimates for 75 countries at the first-level administrative divisions (provinces, states, or regions). The database has time series data that spans 15 years (2000-2014), with total population numbers for each area and the shares relative to total national population estimates.

What's new about this?
The common data source of population estimates for most countries is a census, often conducted every 10 years or so. Many countries publish annual estimates between census years, but few publish similar population estimates for subnational regions. This database aims to provide intercensal estimates using a standard methodology.

Four ways open data is changing the world

Stefaan Verhulst's picture

Library at Mohammed V University at Agdal, RabatDespite global commitments to and increasing enthusiasm for open data, little is actually known about its use and impact. What kinds of social and economic transformation has open data brought about, and what is its future potential? How—and under what circumstances—has it been most effective? How have open data practitioners mitigated risks and maximized social good?

Even as proponents of open data extol its virtues, the field continues to suffer from a paucity of empirical evidence. This limits our understanding of open data and its impact.

Over the last few months, The GovLab (@thegovlab), in collaboration with Omidyar Network (@OmidyarNetwork), has worked to address these shortcomings by developing 19 detailed open data case studies from around the world. The case studies have been selected for their sectoral and geographic representativeness. They are built in part from secondary sources (“desk research”), and also from more than 60 first-hand interviews with important players and key stakeholders. In a related collaboration with Omidyar Network, Becky Hogge (@barefoot_techie), an independent researcher, has developed an additional six open data case studies, all focused on the United Kingdom.  Together, these case studies, seek to provide a more nuanced understanding of the various processes and factors underlying the demand, supply, release, use and impact of open data.

After receiving and integrating comments from dozens of peer reviewers through a unique open process, we are delighted to share an initial batch of 10 case studies, as well three of Hogge’s UK-based stories. These are being made available at a new custom-built repository, Open Data’s Impact, that will eventually house all the case studies, key findings across the studies, and additional resources related to the impact of open data. All this information will be stored in machine-readable HTML and PDF format, and will be searchable by area of impact, sector and region.