Just last week, Chris Kreuz was commenting on the “small first movers” in the long journey to open development data, and the WSJ was reporting on the promises of opening up scientific databases to deepen our understanding of diseases.
This week, the World Bank is announcing that "it has thrown open the doors to its statistical databases and is challenging the global community to use the data to create new applications and solutions to help the developing world." Some 2,000 indicators, including hundreds that go back 50 years, are now available to policy makers and researchers via data.worldbank.org. More databases will be added to the site over time.
And this is not the end. After the 3-day Random Hacks of Kindness, the upcoming Apps for Development competition will provide another opportunity for the tech and development community to engage, this time on the creation of tools that help make the most of the newly released data sets.
Perhaps even more significantly for the organisation, July will mark the launch of the Bank’s new Access to Information Policy which will considrably expand access to the Bank’s reports and documents for the public.
Granted, it will still take more to get at the information stored within the Bank than incanting "Open Sesame," and maybe the Bank still belongs among the "small first movers,” but it certainly feels that my dream of withdrawing the claws from development data is gradually coming closer to fruition. Congratulations to all the colleagues who made this possible!
Ultimately, it is only when we will see a steady flow of new apps that have an impact on the ground that all of us who care about development will be able to collectively claim success.