The World Bank has just launched a new Data website that is densely packed with newly free data and features for using the data which are appropriate to all levels of users.
Users may browse by country, topic, indicator or listing in the data catalog. The World Bank says that access is now freely available for over 2000 indicators from 1960-present. In comparison, the most recent version of World Development Indicators, a licensed version of their data sold to academic libraries, contained just over 900 indicators.
For users in need of single facts or simple visualizations, the Data site is an attractive, easy to use tool. For users wishing to generate time series, pages on the Data site include links to the newdataBank tool.
dataBank contains the databases World Development Indicators & Global Development Finance, Gender Statistics, Health Nutrition and Population Statistics, Africa Development Indicators, Global Economic Monitor (GEM), and Millenium Development Goals. It uses the same software as the WDI Online product, so there’s no additional learning curve for institutions which have previously subscribed to WDI Online.
The Data site supports direct downloads of data for most datasets and databases. The Data site also provides access to APIs for developers who wish to create customized presentations of the World Bank’s data.
Given that many users will wish to copy and paste the simple visualizations at the Data site, it’s a shame that the visualizations can’t be copied and pasted.
However, this is a minor quibble with an otherwise very promising approach to data. The World Bank has clearly thought about how to meet the needs of different user groups and the results show it. In launching this site, the World Bank has also made a strong statement in support of open data - even to the extent of eliminating the revenue stream from WDI Online subscriptions. This is a rare move in the information world and worthy of praise.