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The time is right for an open data fund

Prasanna Lal Das's picture
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Nobody cares about open data. And they shouldn’t. What people care about are jobs, clean air, safety and security, education, health, and the like. And for open data to be relevant and meaningful, it must contribute to what people care about and need.

We wrote a few weeks ago that the private sector is increasingly using open data in ways that are not only commercially viable but also produce measurable social impact. What is missing is financing that can help catalyze the growth of data fueled businesses in emerging economies. We are developing a fund that will address this precise need.

The context
Companies such as Climate Corporation, Opower, Brightscope, Panjiva, Zillow, Digital Data Divide and many others have shown that it’s possible to be disruptive (in established sectors such as agriculture, health and education), innovative (across the data spectrum - from collection to storage to analytics to dissemination), profitable, and socially impactful at the same time (see Climate Corporation’s Ines Kapphan, Metabiota’s Ash Casselman, and the GovLabs@NYU’s Joel Gurin talk about how how open data based companies are tackling complex, sophisticated development problems in high-impact business sectors – their path breaking work is clear evidence of the growing maturity of the industry).

How I Use World Bank Data: Researching Access to Electricity

Dong Yang's picture
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Dong Yang is a first-year Ph.D. student at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences. He majors in public administration. Dong got in touch with us to share his experience using World Bank Data as part of his research.

William Shakespeare once wrote, “There are a thousand Hamlets in a thousand people’s eyes.”  Similarly, different people have different understandings of database services. Some people believe it is a type of personalized service, some believe it’s a value-added service, while others believe it’s a solutions-driven service. For us students, database services are vital to our research.
 
As a form of knowledge service, databases should be adapted to the changing needs of users, supporting both knowledge consumption and knowledge creation. A good database helps not only to convert “data” into “outcomes,” but also achieve the goal of pooling wisdom and creating knowledge by enhancing a user’s creativity with its rich resources and services. In my view, the World Bank’s Open Data has truly fulfilled these functions.

No open data? No problem. 5 ways entrepreneurs are fueling open data in the developing world

Sandra Moscoso's picture
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Nuevos métodos de recopilación de datos

Open data is creating opportunities for governments to work more efficiently and effectively, for citizens to engage with government and take a more active role in communities, for activists to support their advocacy efforts with facts, for entrepreneurs to bring new products and services to market, and for the bulk of us to be able to make everyday decisions

On the entrepreneurial side, the World Bank's Open Finances team has been exploring the commercial value of open data, and looking for opportunities to support entrepreneurs. These goals are achievable thanks to governments who have fostered innovation around public data by taking the step to open it. What happens when governments haven't yet opened public data? Is it possible for entrepreneurs to take advantage of open data where it does not exist?

Data and Development

Mahmoud Mohieldin's picture

WASHINGTON, DC – Since the turn of the century, the international development community has rallied behind the Millennium Development Goals, which set specific targets in eight key areas, including poverty, child mortality, and disease, to be achieved by 2015. In formulating the post-2015 development agenda, measuring the MDGs’ successes – and identifying where progress has lagged – is critically important. And that demands more and better data.

To be sure, international institutions and many developing countries have invested significantly in improving data collection to track better their performance against MDG targets. In 2003, only four countries had two data points for 16 or more of the 22 principal MDG indicators; by last year, that figure had soared to 118 countries.

But development data remain a scarce resource in the developing world. Given their value in measuring – and propelling – social and economic progress, this shortage must be addressed urgently. A catalyst is needed to expand the production and use of development data. With this in mind, the high-level panel on the post-2015 development agenda is right to call for a global “data revolution.”

The specter of big data is haunting the world, but has the data revolution already occurred?

Prasanna Lal Das's picture
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Changes to the supply and demand of data are restructuring privileged hierarchies of knowledge, with amateur hackers and machine-readable technology becoming a central part of its analysis. Traditional experts may be hoping for a gradual evolution, but a parallel revolution led by practitioners in the private sector may already be underway. Prasanna Lal Das argues that partnerships will need to incorporate these new practitioners because for them, the data revolution is already a fact of life.

This isn’t the first age of revolution, but this one feels like it might not last 100 years. Our world is transmogrifying in front of our eyes – sometimes more forcefully than others – and the traditionally dry world of data, dominated by dons and ‘experts’, hasn’t been immune to changes either. It might even be the spark for at least some revolutionary fervour, especially since the report of the high level panel of eminent persons on the post-2015 development agenda called for a ‘data revolution’ to ‘strengthen data and statistics for accountability and decision-making purposes’. The official data revolution has however unfolded slowly, sometimes making one wonder if it’s going to be a revolution of the bureaucrats, by the bureaucrats, and for the bureaucrats. Or if it will be a revolution that truly changes how we measure our world, what we measure in it, and who does the measurements.

From Participation to Opportunity in Women's Work: What Data Tell Us

Jeni Klugman's picture
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A new World Bank report, Gender at Work, emphasizes the need for multidimensional assessments of gender equality in the world of work. A fuller picture of the problem lends to more comprehensive policy solutions.

It is tempting to use a single indicator as the gauge of a country’s standing on gender equality and women’s economic empowerment. None is more alluring than labor force participation. It is consistently available and provided yearly for the vast majority of countries—currently 183 out of 214 on the Gender Data Portal. This is an exception in the universe of economic gender indicators, which are often patchy, irregular, and unreliable. However, this leaves an incomplete and even misguided impression of how countries fare.

The Data Revolution is Here: How is Open Data Changing the Private Sector?

Prasanna Lal Das's picture

How do you take the same data that everybody has access to and convert it into a billion dollar business? When do you look at all the data in the world and say you want more (and that you are going to collect it like no one has done before)? How do you stop worrying about open data, and begin solving development challenges instead? Who is doing what with open data and how and why?

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