The World Bank Frees Its Data

In an exciting advance for the global data transparency movement, the World Bank today launched its Open Data Initiative, releasing more than 2000 data sets that document human development worldwide, including health, business, finance, environment, and social welfare statistics.  This is a big deal for openness in development:  not only are these high-quality and often unique data sets, but until today they have been available only to paying subscribers. 

The World Bank's new Open Data site has a lot of features that impress us here at the White House Open Government Initiative.  The data catalog is well-organized and easy to navigate, with breakdowns by country, topic, and statistical indicator.  Some 330 of the data sets have been translated into French, Spanish, and Arabic, with more languages to come.  And there are some good, lightweight, built-in visualization tools -- for example, check out the charts available in the country profile for Rwanda.  We especially like the URL (data.worldbank.org), which echoes our own Data.gov.

Perhaps best of all, the World Bank also released an iPhone app called DataFinder, which enables data search and charts/visualizations on the fly.

Finally, we're impressed by the World Bank's plan to encourage the development of applications that make innovative use of all this open data through an "Apps for Development" challenge later this year.

Rowdy applause and congratulations to the World Bank team.  You've raised the bar on open data. 

Andrew McLaughlin is Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer.

Your Federal Tax Receipt