World Bank Opens Up Its Data, Removes Pay Walls

The World Bank, which tracks everything from mortality rates and education levels to CO2 emissions and livestock production in hundreds of countries around the globe, is opening up its data, including removing all of the pay walls around information that used to require a subscription fee. The agency has also launched a new web site where it’s making all of the information from dozens of its global databases and surveys available for browsing or download. The Bank said that it’s “challenging the global community to use the data to create new applications and solutions to help poor people in the developing world.”

The data at the World Bank site includes more than 2,000 indicators related to economic well-being and global development, including some that the agency has been accumulating for 50 years. The data is available in Arabic, French and Spanish as well as English. The agency said that it plans to launch an Apps for Development competition in the next few months, which it hopes will lead to tools, applications and mashups that use World Bank data to help global development.

“I believe it’s important to make the data and knowledge of the World Bank available to everyone,” World Bank Group President Robert Zoellick said in a statement. “Statistics tell the story of people in developing and emerging countries and can play an important part in helping to overcome poverty. They are now easily accessible on the Web for all users, and can be used to create new apps for development.”

The Bank’s new open data initiative includes information from the annual World Development Indicators report, which tracks close to 1,000 stats related to global development, as well as the results of other surveys done by the agency, including the Global Development Finance report, Africa Development Indicators, Global Economic Monitor and indicators from the Doing Business Report. The Bank said that it will be adding further databases in the future.

Here’s a video of World Bank president Robert B. Zoellick talking about the agency’s new project:

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