The World Bank is excited to announce its new open data initiative, bringing global economic and development data to the web for the world to use.

As part of the open data initiative, the Bank today launches data.worldbank.org, a Web site that provides free, open and easy access to statistics and indicators about development. Visitors to the site can easily find, download, manipulate, use, and re-use the data compiled by the World Bank, without restrictions.

World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick recently explained the importance of open data and the thinking behind the new open data initiative: “I believe it’s important to make the data and knowledge of the World Bank available to everyone. 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.”

Opening up the Bank’s data stores will allow individuals, groups, and organizations to create applications, programs, visualizations, and other tools that will help monitor and measure progress of various development initiatives and projects. Additionally, the data can be used to create new and innovative solutions for international development, helping with the World Bank’s mission to reduce poverty across the globe.

The open data initiative is part of the World Bank’s decision to be more accessible, and the new data site provides user-friendly access to key development indicators in four languages: English, Spanish, French and Arabic. These indicators are carefully drawn from numerous data sources and statistical partners. The full set of the Bank’s indicators on development are also available in the data catalog with over 2,000 time series indicators, for over 200 economies, and in many cases for over 50 years. Additional tools, including search, will provide users with simple methods to find indicators and data quickly, with download and visualization options.

This new open data initiative coincides with the release of the World Development Indicators (WDI) 2010, one of the Bank’s most popular statistical resources. In addition to providing open access to the WDI, which provides data for nearly 1000 indicators, the Bank’s data initiative also opens up access to the Global Development Finance, Africa Development Indicators, Global Economic Monitor, and indicators from the Doing Business Report. Many indicators are also available to developers and others to create data applications and visualizations through an Application Programming Interface (API). The Bank will continue to add datasets and indicators in the months ahead. Users are encouraged to provide feedback and are welcome to comment on the data, the usability and the features.

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