The World Bank is today launching a new website, data.worldbank.org, from which you can get a huge range of statistics and indicators about development. In the past you had to pay to use World Development Indicators, or buy a CD-ROM. From today you can find, download, manipulate, use, and re-use the data compiled by the World Bank, without restrictions or payment.
Not only has the World Bank made this data available, it has created interfaces that enable programmers to access the data automatically (in technical language, they are providing an API). That in turn means that individuals and organisations can create programmes, websites or visualizations that use the data and enable them to mash it up with other information.
This data does not yet included detailed World Bank project data. But the World Bank is part of the International Aid Transparency Initiative, IATI, through which 18 donors are working together to put detailed aid data online. When that is up and running, it will be possible to access aid data in the same way as the development information being put online by the World Bank today.
This is a huge step forward for open access to development data. Well done the World Bank.