By Amy West | April 20, 2011
The World Bank has developed an iPhone/iPad/etc application called “World Bank Results at a Glance". These results are indicators related to either UN Millenium Development Goals (where the World Bank has partnered with the UN) or outcomes from exclusively World Bank projects.
The application has 450 indicators for 85 countries. Users can
- Search and browse over 450 results profiles by
- country name or coordinates
- more than 30 topics
- over 300 keywords, including “roads,” “food security,” “job creation,” and more
- Millennium Development Goals
- Save and share stories
- View a graphic timeline of key World Bank results and milestones
- Read relevant background about the World Bank’s results initiatives
- See Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Bank itself, shedding light on the modern workings of the institution
- Gain access to multiple PDFs in multiple languages related to quick results facts, country statistics, and background on the Bank’s initiatives, all exportable to iBooks
- View project images and videos
This tool joins three other World Bank applications which cover indicators (DataFinder), nformation (InfoFinder) and doing business around the world (Doing Business at a Glance). All are free via the iTunes store.
As the owner of an Android phone & an iPad who works in an office in which wireless signals go to die, I have mixed feelings about and limited experience with these applications. I suspect I’d find an Android version of all of the applications useful as I use my phone for both work and personal purposes. If it were easy to do so, I’d probably answer reference questions using a World Bank application from my phone.
My iPad is a purely personal toy which is why I have yet to try any of these tools on it - watching movies, reading books and playing Civilization all come first there. However, the iPad, with a bigger screen, might well be a good match to data displays.
An interesting element in the Results application is the “Random” feature. Since I’m working from screenshots, I’m not entirely sure of the function, but then, even if I had the software installed, I still would question the usefulness of the “Random” results feature. If there’s one thing that mobile technology supports, it’s task-driven activities and a random result doesn’t seem to fit that model. On the other hand, I also spent a half an hour poking around an application for the US Congress last night with no particular purpose or task in mind. It’s entirely possible that the target audience for this application is just as likely as I am to engage in similarly non-task-driven explorations.
I hope that the World Bank continues its admirable efforts to walk the walk on open data - by not just making it free online with multiple methods of access for all kinds of users, but also available across user devices. I also hope that they begin to release Android-compatible applications so that more of us can make use of the data in more contexts.