Approximately 50 percent of the global adult population - or 2.5 billion people - are excluded from the formal financial system. Who are the unbanked? The vast majority of these adults are concentrated in the developing world - only a third of South Asians, a quarter of Sub-Saharan Africans, and less than a fifth of Middle-Easterners and North Africans have an account at a formal financial institution (Demirguc-Kunt & Klapper, 2012). Why are these people unbanked? A shortage of money, excessive cost, distance to a bank, and documentation requirements are reported by the unbanked themselves as the main barriers to financial access.
In the World Bank Finances team, we're currently asking ourselves what's next after publishing open financial data? What comes after transparency?
There's of course a lot we still need to do -- we need to help other people publish data (other people's data can make ours even more powerful and help tell more complete stories), we need to help people learn to use our data, we need to raise awareness about the availability and potential of open data, there of course is more (and more granular) data we still need to publish, and the like.
Last month, while World Bank President Jim Yong Kim launched the gender data portal, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remarked that “data not only measures progress, it inspires it”. Indeed when data is both relevant and effectively communicated, it can help to inform policies, identify challenges, and catalyze changes and innovations that deliver development results.
With that goal in mind, we started an Open Data Lab. One of our objectives is to help the development community become more effective data communicators by experimenting with different data visualization techniques and tools. The human brain finds it easier to process data and information if it is presented as an image rather than raw numbers or words. And visualizations that let and encourage users to interact with data can deepen their understanding of the information presented.
Local languages, more poverty data, more timely data, and more information on data sources, data reliability, and the differences between World Bank data and national data. These were the comments we heard most often during visits to India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka as part of a World Bank Open Development Roadshow.
Hundreds of open data experts and enthusiasts from more than 50 countries are expected at the second International Open Government Data Conference (IOGDC) —a look at the impact and promise of open data in cities, countries and institutions around the world.
- opendata IOGDC
A couple of weeks ago some of the original members of the team that helped make the World Bank's data freely accessible and open had an opportunity to meet with the outgoing President of the World Bank, Bob Zoellick; his enthusiasm and commitment to modernizing the World Bank and making it more open has been a key factor in the success of the Bank's Open Data Initiative – and some regard it as a hallmark of his tenure.
He was keen to thank the many people that came together behind the common objective of making the Bank's data easier to find and easier to use. And he had a question for us: what's next? We've posted some thoughts about that before, but what did we tell the President?
One of our goals in the next year is to make World Bank open data easier to find and use. As a start, we recently redesigned the country pages on data.worldbank.org to showcase other open data resources, such as Projects, Finances, Mapping For Results, Microdata, and the Climate Change Knowledge Portal. From any country page, you can now preview the data and navigate to the corresponding country page on any of these other sites.
- open data
When the World Bank opened its doors and launched the Open Data Initiative two years ago, our Data Help Desk was flooded with questions, requests and comments from students, researchers, journalists, economists, statisticians and more. The demand for our data has only grown, and right now, our team answers around a thousand data-related queries a month by email and phone.
|Meet the World Bank Open Data Helpdesk Team|