The Worldbank, an international financial institution that provides leveraged loans to developing countries for capital programs has just released data.worldbank.org, a website that provides free, open and easy access to statistics and indicators about development. While the idea is not particularly novel (think of UNData, Google Public Data, data.gov and many others) the World Bank Data website seems unique by the combination of offering free datasets and indicators as well as a compelling visual interface for open data exploration. Many indicators are also available to developers to create new data applications and visualizations through an Application Programming Interface (API).
The visual dashboard in particular shows a surprising level of visual sophistication and detail, and gives access to economically relevant topics like Education or CO2 emission, or country-specific statistics of countries ranging from the U.S. to Rwanda.
The fact that the information architecture and visual style is contemporary and consistent, that even the smallest data widget offers a direct link to the actual data source, and that the interface is offered in different languages demonstrates the amount of dedication put in this project. However, the vertical axis labels seem to be missing, and the amount of space dedicated to specific data attributes that are almost always "not available" seem to be annoying oversights.
Would you agree?
"Broader access to these data allow policymakers and advocacy groups to make better-informed decisions and measure improvements more accurately. They are also valuable tools to support research by journalists, academia and others, broadening understanding of global issues."