Following upon my declaration of the Decade of Data, I think it is very impressive that the World Bank decided to share its data. As part of their ‘open data initiative’, data from their large number of databases is made available through the internet. Together, these databases encompass over 2,000 indicators of countries all over the world, many of them covering a time-series of 50 years. Topics include:
- Agriculture & Rural Development
- Aid Effectiveness
- Labor & Social Protection
- Economic Policy and External Debt
- Private Sector
- Energy & Mining
- Public Sector
- Science & Technology
- Financial Sector
- Social Development
- Urban Development
If the mission of the World Bank is to “fight poverty with passion and professionalism for lasting results and to help people help themselves and their environment by providing resources, sharing knowledge, building capacity and forging partnerships in the public and private sectors”, I believe this initiative can but help. More data, more dissemination, and more people using the data will all contribute to more knowledge.
The website allows for making graphics, maps and tables using the data. It is also possible to download the data: be sure to do so, for it immediately gives access to the complete time-series. Moreover, the World Bank created an interface allowing other applications to access the data directly. One cool application using this is already created by the people of the World Bank themselves, for an iPhone application is available. Imagine having all this data in your pocket!