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From open data to a collaborative community – looking ahead with TCdata360

Prasanna Lal Das's picture
TCdata360: Your Source for Open Trade and Competitiveness Data


It’s now been about a month since the Trade & Competitiveness Global Practice of the World Bank Group launched TCdata360, our new platform for open trade and competitiveness data from the Bank and external sources. The initial response has been overwhelmingly positive, and it has included a mixture of the anticipated and the unexpected.

Egypt has been the most popular country page during this period, the indicator on the number of days to start a business has been the second most visited page (though it seems to be ceding its spot to the page on venture capital availability) and we have been struck by the number of people that have searched for information on countries that have laws against sexual harassment in the work place (it’s steadily been one of the top 10 most visited pages on the site). Our data stories have attracted attention as well, especially in social media and there has been consistent interest in the API.

The question now is: Where should we take TCdata360 from here? How does a platform grow after the initial excitement around its release has dissipated? How can you or your organization contribute to the growth of the platform?

Here are a few of our ideas at the moment:
 
  • More data – we have a growing inventory of new datasets.
  • Better user experience – we are tweaking several things, while keeping what people like (which is most of the site).
  • More analytics – we have experimented with Datascoper, a tool to uncover hidden patterns in data, but work remains to make these tools more usable and meaningful.
  • Better engagement with our users – we want to show off your work on the site. Tell us about the insightful work you do using our data; we will share it with all our users. And we are all ears about your ideas for other ways to collaborate.
  • Continue contributing to the open data community – we plan to offer data literacy and other support; stay tuned for greater emphasis on applied data; we are working to make this and other data truly useful in an applied sense to governments, the private sector, and others.
  • Better linkages with the open source world – we built the site on open source and want to share our work with the community; we are constantly looking for tools that we can either integrate into the site or that we should be using. Tell us about them.


Help us improve our list – write us at tcdata@worldbank.org or tweet us at #TCdata360.

We are also generating ideas from the questions you have asked over the last month. Here are some of the things you asked:

Where do you source your data from? How will the data on the site grow? Can I offer my data through the platform?
We want to provide as much relevant public data as we can through the platform – some of it comes from the World Bank Group, but a lot doesn’t. See the full (and constantly growing) list of our data sources. Tell us your ideas about how to go beyond what we offer

I am not terribly technical or data-savvy. Can I use your data?
We have good news for you. We have provided tools and features to make it easy to access the data, compare countries, observe data over time, and move the data to a report or a social conversation. Here are a couple of examples:
Indicator page (international tourism receipts, for instance)

See the highlights in the graphic to learn how to…

  • download the source data in Excel or similar format;
  • add or drop countries from the data visualization (type your own custom list or use the region, income, or peer groupings we suggest);
  • change the visualization type (you can view almost every indicator as a map for instance);
  • change the time span you want to look at (just move the slider);
  • share the data visualization on social media or download the final image as a PDF file or as an image.



 
Country page (Zambia, for instance)
  • Make any country your default for the site (the site uses your location by default; you can however make any country your default).
  • Download a country report – one of our most popular features; download a curated snapshot of the country featuring 50+ indicators that tell the trade and competitiveness story of the country. And as a bonus, you get a snapshot of the related WBG portfolio in the country as well.
  • Jump straight to the data that interests you.
  • Compare your country against any other; pick from the entire list of indicators we currently feature about the country.
 


 

I’m a data nerd. Just give me the data, can’t you?
Absolutely. The API on the site provides access to a large amount of data from 25+ sources at a single spot. Everything right there and updated regularly for you.

How current is the data? Can I really trust it?
We try to keep the data as current as we can. Most of our source datasets aren’t available through APIs so we have to manually scour them (we do it monthly) to track new releases. Hopefully we catch everything but let us know if you think we ever miss anything.
All the data on the site comes from generally trusted sources. We provide metadata and links back to source in case you want to dig deeper into a number. And of course, take a look at our terms and conditions if you still have questions.

What about missing data? Do you plan to fill known data gaps?
We would love to fill data gaps but we have left it to the experts in the area. Meanwhile we provide a data map for every indicator that shows you the global data coverage for the indicator and yes you can see how it has changed over time (just use the slider at the bottom of the map). Lots of interesting stories there.


 

What are these data stories that people keep tweeting about?

Ah those! We have tried to tell a few stories on the site through data. These are essentially interactive narratives that let you explore the data behind a story – so you get lots of data behind every assertion in the story, and you can check everything for yourself. Tell us if you think it works.