World Bank Finances quietly went live on July 13 (read the announcement on the World Bank's open data site) and word has been gradually filtering out over Twitter (primarily), Facebook, and the odd online post. Much of the response so far has been positive, and people seem excited about the fact that the Bank has published, in open data format, so much information about the Bank’s investments, assets it manages on behalf of global funds, and the Bank’s own financial statements. We are also delighted to note that people have begun to take advantage of the interactive tools available on the site and are already slicing and dicing data, visualizing it, and sharing it online. The World Bank Finances mobile app comes out in a few weeks and we hope that other developers will take advantage of the API on the website to build their own apps.
One question that many of you have begun to ask already is what next? Part of the answer is simple -- expand the scope of the data and include even more information. We are working very hard on that. Then there is also the question of greater conformity with standards like IATI (as this post from Publish What You Fund suggests) -- we're on the case here too. We have also been asked about our data quality processes ('open data is not enough' as they say) and while we recognize the odd lacuna, that's an area that we work constantly on. We also need to engage more with developers, civil society organizations, the media, and more -- watch this space with more information soon on that
Some of you have raised a couple of very intriguing prospects. The first one is the idea of using open data as a platform for increasing citizen engagement -- can citizens and other stakeholders share open data through the platform so it becomes a two-way platform rather than another publishing vehicle for the Bank (albeit more sophisticated than some others). That's something we really want to work on and we would greatly appreciate hearing from you about ideas/techniques/cases we should consider. The other exciting idea is about working with governments to make it easier for them to share financial data related to Bank projects. That of course has tremendous potential and there's some work underway already on similar lines that we'd love to tap into.
What else would you recommend? And while we recognize the challenges inherent in each of the ideas above, is there something specific you suggest we watch out for?