The World Bank Group said today it will offer free access to more than 2,000 financial, business, health, economic and human development statistics that had mostly been available only to paying subscribers.
The decision─part of a larger effort to increase access to information at the World Bank─means that researchers, journalists, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), entrepreneurs and school children alike will be able to tap into the World Bank's databases via a new website, data.worldbank.org.
Experts say the Bank's open data initiative has the potential to stimulate more evidence-based policymaking in developing countries by bringing more researchers and innovative analysis into the development process. The move is also likely to stimulate demand for data and increase countries' capacity to produce it, they say.
And, for the first time, data will be available in languages other than English, with an initial 330 indicators translated into French, Spanish and Arabic.
“It’s important to make the data and knowledge of the World Bank available to everyone," World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick said. "Statistics tell the story of people in developing and emerging countries and can play an important part in helping to overcome poverty.”
The World Bank will launch an "Apps for Development” challenge later this year to give developers around the world incentives to “transform datasets into new applications to help tackle existing development challenges, such as infant mortality , literacy and extreme poverty."