GuideStar International's Blog

November 25, 2009

Google Makes World Bank Data more Discoverable

by Keisha Taylor

Social and economic information is becoming increasingly easy for the public to access and understand and Google seems to be leading the way in this regard. Google is utilising data from the World Bank to display graphs for queries on 17 World Development Indicators through the use of the World Bank’s public API. Have a look at the World Bank Data Visualiser and find out more about what they have been up to! Google has already acquired Gapminder’s Trendalyser software in 2007, which is being used to provide a deeper understanding of development through data visualization. Organizations like the OECD have been using it to bring statistics to life (for example with Factbook Explorer) and the IMF is using such technology to inform the public about the world economic outlook.  However, CSO information also has tremendous potential for helping us better understand socioeconomic progress and it can also be used to help CSOs understand their internal structure for improved efficiency.  Believe it or not, this concept of information visualization in the nonprofit sector is not new.  As far back as 1971, the Union of International Associations (UIA), an international nonprofit based in Belgium, produced a 16mm film, which illustrated the work they did in the field of information visualisation  (worth fast forwarding 4 minutes ahead to see how the data is being visualised – unfortunately there is no dialogue only music!). Today, with modern and easily accessible ICT resources at hand, civil society organisations can now better analyse information about themselves to improve the way they work and serve the public better.

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