We launched the 2010 World Development Indicators today, except this year we launched it on data.worldbank.org—the Bank’s new open data site that frees up more than 2,000 indicators previously available only to paying subscribers. We’re pushing to share our data with the world, and the WDI is a wonderful platform for this. Year after year, we pull together data from many places—across international agencies and countries-- in one place to draw a statistical image of the world. This year, whole new audiences will be able to access our work.
Since I joined the Bank, I have worked with a team of economists, statisticians, and others to produce a new WDI each year. Every April, we unveiled a new edition that revealed new facts about development. It was our chance to describe development by the numbers. But the numbers were not enough. We needed to explain the numbers, make it easier for others to pull knowledge from all these facts. The essays, the detailed descriptions and definitions of the data were a step in the right direction, but we needed to do more.
As the web came of age, there were more and more possibilities. We made the database available on CD-ROM to make it easier to share and to use. Then we made it available online through a subscription. It was an experiment.
We developed more and more tools for people to see the data in different ways and in different combinations. They could use the Data Visualizer to watch a time-series reveal itself on their screens. We used maps and charts to highlight different aspects of the complexity of development.
That experiment has taken us to today. The WDI database and many others are now being made available on the web for everyone to explore, use, and share. We were surprised and pleased when we had our first 100 subscribers. That 100 grew to more than 24 million registered users around the world who could dive into the WDI database and find answers or form new questions.
Knowledge is the application of information, and that’s especially true about the open data initiative. We knew that people wanted the data. We wanted to find the best way to get it to them. We knew that we had many different types of users: the researcher, the academic, and the development practitioner.. The student, the curious amateur, the journalist, and the application developer-- theyalso wanted the data. But each has a different need and uses the data in different ways.
Today we open up the Bank’s data, not just the WDI, for all users. By sharing it openly, we are encouraging its use. We are determined to keep improving the site and making it better for all users.
- World Development Indicators: Press Release | Photos | WDI 2010
- World Bank Data Initiative: Feature Story | Press Release | News Item | Blog Post | Video | data.worldbank.org