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4/21/2010
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World Bank Posts 2000 Data Sets Online

Information on global health, business, finance, and other topics are now accessible to the public in an effort to make the institution's data more widely available.

In an effort to make its data more widely available, the World Bank this week released online more than 2,000 data sets documenting human development worldwide.

The data -- available online at the World Bank's Open Data Web site -- includes worldwide information about health, business, finance, environment, and social welfare statistics that were previously available only to paying customers.

"It's important to make the data and knowledge of the World Bank available to everyone," World Bank president Robert Zoellick said in a statement. "Statistics tell the story of people in developing and emerging countries and can play an important part in helping to overcome poverty."

In conjunction with the site, the World Bank released an iPhone application called DataFinder, which allows search of the Open Data site and the creation of charts or data visualizations from iPhones.

Users can download data sets for a particular country, access raw data, comment on data, and e-mail and share data via social media sites, according to the World Bank. The data come from different sources, including the Bank's 186 member countries and more than 30 international agencies and other partners.

Newly available are databases for the World Development Indicators, Africa Development Indicators, Global Economic Monitor, and Global Development Finance.

The World Bank has organized its data into categories arranged by country, topic, and statistical indicators, and translated 330 of the data sets into French, Spanish, and Arabic. More languages are expected to be added as the site evolves. Further, the World Bank built into the site visualization tools that let users view charts based on geographical areas.

The move drew kudos from the White House, which, as part of its open government initiative, is making thousands of data sets from federal agencies publicly available. The main site for the U.S. government's data-transparency effort is Data.gov, which aggregates data sets from various agencies into online catalogs and allows people to search through it.

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