During a recent World Bank retreat, my colleagues and I visited Baltimore, a city that has developed some interesting, low-cost, innovative strategies to improve governance and increase transparency in policymaking. These strategies could be applied in many of the developing cities where we work, and, I will admit, stumbling across this initiative was akin to finding hidden treasure.
We recently hosted the Aid Information Challenge in cooperation with Development Gateway. This event brought together over 100 participants to work on visualizing aid information and data. The morning started with inspiring talks by Aleem Walji of the World Bank’s Innovation department and our keynote speaker, Clay Johnson, Director of Sunlight Labs.
Below is a clip from Clay's keynote where he explains that "the next step for this field is not just to open the data, but to put it into context for people...not just so that the World Bank can make better decisions in Uganda and we can save some children, but also so that we can get people in the long run to make better decisions, personal decisions."
|Accessing information is a right that comes associated with—at least—the homework of reading, studying and understanding such information. (February 2010, World Bank booth at Library Week in Vientiane, WB photo)|
It's been a week since we launched the open data initiative and the feedback we've been receiving is truly amazing. Here's a tag cloud showing what the twitter community has been saying:
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.
The doors to the largest depository of development data in the world were just thrown open. Starting today, all our statistics are available online free of charge for all. The Open Data Access builds on the success of Data.Gov adopted by the US and UK and lets the global community create new applications and solutions to help poor people in the developing world.
Data, until now available through subscriptions only, is now accessible at data.worldbank.org. This is an important milestone for the World Bank, which complements the Access to Information reform. For many data is power. It is more than just numbers as it creates the space for dialogue based on facts and helps to foster new ideas.
Big news: the World Bank has launched an open data site with more than 2,000 financial, business, health, economic and human development statistics. Until now, most of this had been available only to paying subscribers. Not only that, but the site and indicators are also available in French, Spanish, and Arabic --with 330 indicators initially, but set to grow.