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On its 2nd birthday, the World Bank Development Data Hub celebrates achievements in data access and management

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Have you visited the Development Data Hub… lately?


This month marks the second anniversary since the official launch of the World Bank’s Development Data Hub (DDH). In the spirit of the holiday season, we think it’s appropriate to take a moment to reflect a bit on the ways DDH has improved the landscape for how development data is managed and shared.

Today, the World Bank’s DDH provides access to more than 4,000 public datasets, 15,000 indicators, and 200 visuals on a complete range of development topics. It offers software tools that aid in data use, curation, storage, sharing, and re-use, with features such as:

  • One-stop data shop – All World Bank datasets are searchable from one location. This saves data users from the hassle of searching three or four Bank sites in order to find data on a particular topic. It also means that data owners can share one URL for their data, metadata, documentation, graphics, citations, and other relevant information.
  • Easy data access – Access to all data types (e.g., geospatial, microdata, time series, and others) has been simplified. Raw or bulk data files are available in multiple formats alongside application programming interfaces (APIs) and other tools to select and download just the data you need.
  • Reproducible results – Some datasets now include not only the data, but also the source code to create them. This allows data scientists to share and reuse their methodologies.


Data access before the World Bank’s DDH—and where we are now

Before the World Bank’s DDH was launched in 2017, information about the work conducted by World Bank staff was difficult to find and share, since there were no standards to organize it nor centralized means to store and manage it. Accessing data and documentation entailed multiple links to multiple Bank sites.

Today, however, the DDH provides a single entry point to all Bank datasets and simplifies navigation with capabilities and services, such as:

  • Search – Not only can users search all World Bank survey, time series, geospatial, and other data from one location, they can also conduct “deep searches” inside datasets, where they may discover data they didn’t even know existed.
  • Geospatial catalog – The World Bank’s DDH provides the first comprehensive collection of geospatial datasets, covering topics that include land cover, roads, and energy.
  • Metadata – The World Bank’s DDH provides consistent and essential metadata for each dataset, including when it was updated, how it was produced or acquired, and additional information to support user inquiries and objectives.
  • Clear data licensing – Each dataset provides a prominent license describing its terms of use. The World Bank employs the Creative Commons Attribution license 4.0 (CC-BY 4.0)—one of the most widely understood licensing schemes—for the vast majority of its public datasets, so anyone can use, share, and re-use our open datasets with proper attribution.
  • Citation tracking – The World Bank DDH improved its tracking of dataset citations using information from public search engines. Lists of citations found in published works are now shown on a separate tab on each dataset’s page.
  • Visualizations – The data catalog allows users to search for visualizations, which help them interpret data, clarify their meaning, or illustrate relationships.


Examples of how the World Bank DDH has improved data access

The World Bank’s DDH portals support research and project design with information targeted to specific topics and initiatives, such as:

  • – The Doing Business project provides objective measures of business regulations and their enforcement across 190 economies and selected cities at the subnational and regional level. Launching a business overseas? The Doing Business project looks at domestic small and medium-size companies and measures the regulations applying to them through their life cycle. All Doing Business data can be found here on the World Bank’s DDH.
  • Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) project – The World Bank is a major source of sovereign ESG data used in investment decisions. Until recently, however, that data was scattered across databases that were sometimes difficult to access. Today, this data is easily available on the World Bank Sovereign ESG portal. Users can download bulk datasets and other information to guide investment strategies for sovereign bonds. The ESG data framework incorporates data relevant to 17 sustainable development goals and offers visualization tools to clarify concepts. The World Bank’s DDH plays an essential supporting role in making ESG data from multiple databases available in a single location.
  • – This platform provides public access to datasets from more than a dozen organizations on energy-related topics, including the Global Wind Atlas and solar and wind measurements and electricity transmission networks. The World Bank’s DDH helps the energy team curate their datasets, and the two platforms are synchronized via data harvesting. All World Bank datasets in are also available on the DDH.
  • Terrestrial biodiversity – This dataset addresses the critical gap in ecosystems and biodiversity data. It supports international conservation efforts with data from habitat maps representing all known and catalogued species in specific areas. It also compiles information from the International Union for Conversation of Nature and Birdlife International and from World Wildlife Fund eco-regions, covering the entire terrestrial world and identifying ecologically vulnerable areas worldwide. The World Bank’s DDH provides storage for these very complex terrestrial biodiversity datasets, which would be difficult to make available otherwise.

Other data catalogs, including Microdata, can also be searched through the DDH.


Looking Ahead

The World Bank’s DDH is integral to one of the institution’s key missions: To promote open data and data use.

As it enters its third year, the platform continues to grow, with more features under way. Users can look forward to the introduction of new data and new ways to use them, as well as improved data storage, search, and topic-specific collections that will aid in their day-to-day work.



Omar Hadi

Statistical Analyst, DECDG

Tim Herzog

Senior Data Scientist

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