On the eve of International Women’s Day, I was at a UN WOMEN side event in NYC when my phone started buzzing with well wishes for a happy women’s day from my friends in Asia, filling me with — ambivalence. To be honest, the day always leaves me with mixed feelings: despite the great strides that the world has made in women’s rights in various ways, for me, it’s also a reminder of how so many women still don’t enjoy our basic human rights.
As we’ve returned from women’s day to what in many ways is still a man’s world, I wanted to share three thoughts about the intersection of women’s rights with our data world today.
We're thrilled to release the 2017 Global Findex microdata, featuring individual survey responses from roughly 150,000 adults globally. Get it here, along with documentation including a variable list, questionnaire, and information on sampling procedures and data weighting.
Downloading the data is easy. At the microdata library, you'll see a screen that looks like this:
Data is the key ingredient for evidence based policy making. A growing family of artificial intelligence techniques are transforming how we use data for development. But for these and more traditional techniques to be successful, they need a foundation in good data. We need high quality data that is well managed, and that is appropriately stored, accessed, shared and reused.
The World Bank’s new data catalog transforms the way we manage data. It provides access to over 3,000 datasets and 14,000 indicators and includes microdata, time series statistics, and geospatial data.
We’re strong advocates for open data, but we also recognize that some data, often by virtue of how it has been acquired or the subjects it covers, may have limitations on how it can be used. In the new data catalog, rather than having such data remain unpublished, we’re making many of these previously unpublished datasets available, and we document any restrictions on how they can be used. This new catalog is an extension of the open data catalog and relies heavily on the work previously done by the microdata library.
This year marks the fifth anniversary of the World Bank’s efforts to help countries launch their own open data initiatives, and harness the power of open data to benefit their citizens. A new report provides insights into how open data is benefitting countries, what strategies are working well, what could be improved.
The report provides the most comprehensive snapshot of Bank-funded open data activities to date. In the last five years, the Bank has provided technical assistance and funding for open data activities in over 50 countries, conservatively estimated at more than $50 million from a variety of sources. In many cases Bank funding has leveraged support from other partners or co-sponsorship by countries and other institutions. Within the Bank, the Trust Fund for Statistical Capacity Building (TFSCB) has been the most significant source of funding for open data. The TFSCB has financed over 20 projects in 16 countries, as well as 6 grants for regional and global activities.
Supporting over 45 countries with national and sector-specific open data
Support for open data has taken a variety of forms. To date, 45 Open Data Readiness Assessments (ODRAs) have been completed at national and sub-national levels, which have helped raise awareness and catalyze public and private efforts to advance open data within countries. There are now sector-specific ODRA tools for business, energy, and transport. The Bank has invested in a range of open data learning and knowledge products, including data literacy courses and the Open Data Toolkit, and collaborated with its global partners to support academic research, a series of regional conferences, and open data implementation. The report also found that these initial efforts have catalyzed longer-term project investments, i.e., IBRD loans and IDA credits, with open data implementation components in at least 14 countries.
Where should telecom providers place their towers and what frequencies should they use?
How can governments best calculate commodity imports to ensure food security?
How can communities better manage areas at risks of floods?
These are just some of the questions that organizations around the world try to answer by using open government data — free, publicly available data that anyone can access and use, without restrictions. Yet around the world, much government data is yet to be made available, and still less in machine-readable formats. In many low and lower-middle income countries, finding and using open data is often challenging. It may take a complicated request process to get data from the government, and the data may come in the form of paper-based documents that are very hard to analyze. A new study looks to better understand how organizations in low and lower-middle income countries utilize machine-readable open data.
In producing the study, the Center for Open Data Enterprise, supported by the World Bank, interviewed dozens of businesses and nonprofit organizations in 20 countries. The organizations were identified through the Open Data Impact Map, a public database of organizations that use open data around the world, and a resource of the Open Data for Development (OD4D) Network. Over 50 use cases were developed as part of this study, each an example of open data use in a low or lower-middle income country.
Across Africa, innovators are using open data to gain greater insight into local issues, and create new public services. From government open data platforms to startup accelerator programmes, open data is increasingly recognised as a tool for tackling challenges across a range of sectors including health, education and agriculture.
This autumn, in six cities across South Africa the Responsive Cities Challenge encouraged designers and entrepreneurs to use open data to develop solutions that will improve local government services. Meanwhile, in Burkina Faso, the CartEau project is using open data to map safe drinking water points and latrines across the country for the first time. These examples show how open data is a powerful vehicle for addressing complex problems.
Increasing digital connectivity is important for economic growth, education and democratic participation but the equalising force of the Web is only meaningful when everyone is included in the digital sphere. According to the Web Foundation, women face disproportionate barriers to access, with poor women in urban areas in 10 developing countries they looked at 50% less likely to be connected to the Internet than men in the same age group.
Open data – data anyone can access, use or share – is transformative infrastructure for a digital economy that is consistently innovating and bringing the benefits of the Web to society. Open data often goes hand in hand with open working cultures and open business practices. While this culture lends itself to diversity, it is important that those who are involved in open data make sure it addresses everyone's needs. It is therefore encouraging to see that open data initiatives in African countries are being led by women.
Recent data on hourly wages in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) reveal that Latin Americans working in the non-tradable sector (as in construction, transportation, hotels, or education) earn much more than workers in low-skill tradable sectors such as agriculture or low-tech manufacturing, and closer to high-skill workers in the tradable sector such as high-tech manufacturing or finance. Despite slight variations across countries, in 11 out of 17 countries studied, the difference between wages in low-skill tradable and non-tradable sectors has grown over the last ten years. In most of these countries, hourly wages display a distinct trend: positive growth for high-skill tradable and non-tradable wages, and stagnating, or even declining for low-skill tradable wages.
In less than a generation the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region has made great progress in expanding the basic public services that are necessary for children to succeed later in life. The skills, knowledge and health accumulated by individuals by the time they reach adulthood are essential to get jobs, accelerate economic mobility, and reduce inequality in the long-run. The progress observed in LAC ranges from increased access to healthcare and schools to running water and electricity. But progress has also been uneven, both across countries and for different types of basic services.
Today, the playing field in Latin America is most level in access to electricity, where we have seen gaps in coverage narrow the most. Figure 1 below shows how the typical performance in the region (the median) compares with the country in the region with the highest level of coverage (labeled “best in class”) in three basic services for children. The focus on children makes it possible to determine that any difference in access would be mostly due to circumstances out of their control. In the case of access to electricity the regional median has not only converged towards the best performing country but it has now reached a coverage of 99 percent.
One journalist used it as a data source for a story on solar energy in Makueni County. Another accessed the data for inclusion in a piece on sanitary napkin distribution in East Pokot. Development partners reported relying on the data to coordinate specific activities in the Central Highlands of Kenya. And this is to say nothing of the government users of the data managed by the Electronic Project Monitoring Information System for the Government of Kenya (e-ProMIS), Kenya’s automated information management system on development projects funded by both domestic and foreign resources.
This is a guest blog written by Jeroen Smits of the Global Data Lab, an initiative hosted by the Nijmegen Center for Economics (NiCE) at Radboud University in the Netherlands.
Disaggregation of indicators at the subnational level is one of the key elements to effectively monitor the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). At the same time, this is a great challenge, as in the case for many countries, only indicators at the national level are available.
This is particularly the case for poor countries, where administrative systems are less equipped and capable to generate reliable and representative information. Strengthening those systems is the preferred solution, but that takes time and does not produce the indicators for earlier years required for tracing developments over time.