New World Bank relationship with Google makes development data more accessible and understandable
Search results for 17 key development indicators display answers in graphic format
New Bank Data Finder allows users to find out more about data
November 11, 2009—How long do people live on average around the world? Who has more CO2 emissions: the U.S. or China? Which country consumes the most electricity per capita? A new World Bank relationship with search giant Google is bringing key development data like this directly to web users, making data easier to find, visualize, customize and share than ever before.
This initiative, with thought leaders like Google is part of an ongoing World Bank effort to make data more accessible and understandable for everyone.
"An important part of our mandate in the World Bank is to share knowledge," says Justin Lin, Chief Economist and Senior Vice-President of the World Bank. "This collaboration with Google helps us reach out to more people and to share that knowledge more widely."
Now, a special Google public data search feature will show numeric results for 17 World Development Indicators (WDI) reliably sourced to the World Bank. For example, a Google search for GDP features a box at the top of the page highlighting Bank data and linking to Google's Google's public data graphing tool. Google's graphing tool lets users see and compare country-by-country statistics and offers customized graphs with a ‘link’ or web address that can be easily embedded and shared in other websites.
From the Google Public Data graphing tool, users can learn more about the data on the new World Bank Data Finder, which allows them to access indicator definitions, quick facts, interactive maps, and additional World Bank related resources. All of these features can be easily exported and installed on other websites.
Data Finder also provides customizable maps and concise analysis to inspire user data comparisons and ‘mash-ups’ or combinations with other Bank reports. Under the population growth indicator, for example, the site generates the following statistic, “8 of the world’s 9 billion people will be in the developing world by 2050.” Data Finder is filled with other compelling quick facts from the Bank’s extensive global databases of global knowledge on development.
Locate, visualize and interact— a special search result for public data links to a modifiable graph, enablingusers to intuitively compare the data across countries and years.
The Bank's development data, including the World Development Indicators, informs policy decisions in developing countries, measures progress and also provides a common factual basis for analysis. Already, thousands of people around the world, including students, researchers, and government workers, rely on search engines to find accurate statistical data, but this can involve combing through a range of data files and tables – the Data Finder makes it much easier to find this information.
The new relationship with Google and the Data Finder are part of the ongoing renewal of the Bank’s website. The goal is to make the institution’s extensive knowledge available to a wider audience. Global efforts to overcome poverty and promote economic growth depend on access to accurate data, research and statistics.
The Data Finder’s interactive maps allow users to export, embed and share the visualized data.
"Data is needed to monitor progress. It is the starting point for evidence-based decision-making," says Lin. "Policies are based on information, vital information about the people we are trying to help such as their gender, age, and the nature of their work. We need to measure their quality of life to improve it."
The work with Google will give users direct access to rich statistical information sometimes confined to traditional spreadsheets in the past. This kind of collaboration between data providers like the World Bank and search engines like Google is necessary because today data in numerical format is often difficult to locate and surface. For example, a search engine can’t crawl through many databases where institutions compile important public information.
The collaboration springs from the initial release earlier this year of 114 indicators from key data sources and 12,000 photos to the public in a format designed for developers to create their own applications called an API. Google software engineers called the resource a “treasure trove of statistics for most economies in the world.” It is a treasure that only grows in worth as more users gain access to it.
Google’s interactive line graph allows users to compare country and world totals data side-by-side