Published on Data Blog

Is Open Data Making Good on the Promise of Turbo-Boosted Development? The Operational Use of Open Data.

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Open data is important, but how is open data being used around the world to improve the quality of life and advance development objectives?

Open data continues its ascent as a popular concept, entering mainstream consciousness and being implemented more broadly around the world. We need to look no further than Google search trend analysis to observe open data’s rise in netizen interest -- now even rivaling interest in international development. 

Google Trends

Slowly but surely, the conversation around open data has moved beyond the initial powerful rallying cry of transparency and has rightfully matured towards discussions about scale, impact, and results. What is being done with open data we ask? Mobile and web applications are being created, businesses formed, and services are being offered. Can these solutions be replicated in other places? From an international development perspective, a daunting challenge looms- how is open data being used to advance development objectives? We are quite familiar with what open data impact looks like in theory, but what does it look like in practice?

Unlocking Insights on the Use of Open Data

Seeking answers to these queries is an important exercise- one that is critical to the continued robust growth of open data initiatives. A closer look at how open data is being used and applied in operational settings to achieve development outcomes is a great start, but this is not an easy task. For starters, many uses of open data may not appear to be open data- like the Calculadora de Tarifas taxi price verification app in Colombia. Also, sources of data are changing and evolving- with the traditional line between publishers and users of open data being blurred. Case in point, many journalists and newsrooms are now collecting their own data in the absence of official data

Levels of interest, capture, and cataloguing of open data use vary. Some publishers of data are a bit more meticulous about collecting and sharing examples of open data use; so while the UK does a fantastic job in highlighting use cases, this is far from a common practice.
Crowd Sourcing Creativity

Collaborating Our Way to Greater Understanding

The World Bank Group Open Finances and the Inter-American Development Bank Knowledge & Learning teams are excited to invite you to join us in a study to crowdsource a list of operational open data use cases, analyze and prioritize categories, establish a framework, and contribute to a report highlighting key findings.
In parallel to this crowd-sourced component, we will research additional use cases, layer in information to leads from the survey participants (to start business model of use cases, funding sources, data licenses/formats, stage of implementation in the project cycle, and results), and regularly share progress and findings through updates.
Open collaboration and open access are extremely important pillars of this project. Regular updates will be provided, and all are welcome to share their thoughts on the methodology and review the outputs. As with a previous research study conducted on the Demand for Open Financial Data, all data collected for this project will be published in open format under a CC 3.0 license.
Sharing open data about open data is a way to continue to grow the broader open data community, assist in ideation, and highlight examples that may scale as is or be adapted to other relevant settings. It also serves as a starting point for deeper exploration and research. So join us on this journey- take the survey below (embedded for your convenience), share it with others, tell us what other sources or catalogues of open data use exist, and let us move forward together.

The survey is available at: and is also embedded here: 
Please take the survey below


World Bank Group Finances is the online access point for IBRD, IDA, and IFC open financial data. The website features datasets that cover loans, contracts, trust funds, investments, and financial statements. A relatedmobile app, which allows you to “talk” to us more easily about operational and financial data in nine languages, is available for download for Android and iOS smartphone and tablet users at the Google Storeand the iTunes Store, respectively. Follow us on Twitter to join and remain engaged in the conversation about the Bank’s open financial data.


Samuel Lee

Consultant with SuM4All

Sandra Moscoso

Deputy Program Lead - Global Media Development Programme

Antonio Moneo

Knowledge Management consultant at the Inter-American Development Bank (Washington, DC)

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