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World Bank’s more Open, Accessible and Searchable Data Support Vietnam’s development

March 29, 2012

  • Development data used to be difficult to access and cost money
  • The World Bank opened up its wealth of development data to the public for free
  • Vietnamese people can use the Bank’s accessible & easy-to-use datasets to shape the country’s development

March 29, 2012 - Loan Phuong Hoang first discovered the rich data repository on the World Bank’s website almost 10 years ago when she was a student, doing some research for her assignment. Currently an editor at a prominent newspaper in Vietnam, Loan is much happier with how easy it is to find what she needs.

“The [Bank’s] new website, especially the Data section, is much more accessible, interesting and convenient,” Loan said. “Now I can easily navigate within the site. I will definitely visit it more often.”

Since April 2010, the World Bank Group began free up access to more than 2,000 statistics that previously it charged a subscription fee. The statistics cover many development topics dating back some 50 years ago, to include financial, business, health, economic and human development. Today, over 7,000 indicators are available to the public.

“It’s important to make the data and knowledge of the World Bank available to everyone," World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick said back then. "Statistics tell the story of people in developing and emerging countries and can play an important part in helping to overcome poverty.”

Transparency, accountability and participation are all at the forefront of the World Bank’s citizen-centered development approach called Open Development. The key components behind the initiative are Open Data and Knowledge, Open Operations and Tools as well as Open Solutions.

Key element for development

“The World Bank recognizes that transparency and accountability are essential to the development process and central to achieving the Bank’s mission to alleviate poverty,” said Victoria Kwakwa, World Bank Country Director for Vietnam. “We are committed to provide updated and reliable data and research to support Government and all segments of Vietnamese society to make better-informed decisions and to measure improvements more accurately.”

Trung Dang Le, Research Director at Indochine Research and Consulting (IRC) and PhD Candidate at the University of Copenhagen believes that more open and more transparent access to information on socio-economic research will help ensure Vietnam’s sustainable development.

According to Trung, the Bank’s financial and technical assistance in the last few decades has helped Vietnam to make remarkable progress in building a statistical system. “The Bank’s data system itself has always been a reliable resource for Vietnam,”  Trung said.

The Bank’s data are also valuable tools to support research by journalists, members of the academia and other individuals by broadening their understanding of global issues.

Another long-time user of the Bank’s website since 2002, Phong Son That Ton, Director of Livestock Competitiveness and Food Safety Project, said that data pulling from the site has helped him a lot in his work.

“Documents about Bank-supported projects in several countries and country partnership strategy helped me generate many ideas in preparing and implementing projects,” Phong said. “New Bank guidance on project implementation and progress reports for Bank-supported projects in Vietnam and other countries helped me to assess and compare the progress of the project under my management.”

How-to guide to the Bank’s data site

The site (data.worldbank.org) allows users several ways to access the data they are looking for. The Data home page offers users the option to access the data directly through the database, by country, by topic, or by indicator.

Browse Country data

The Countries page provides a listing of all economies, listed alphabetically. Users can choose a country from the list and will be presented with a page displaying relevant data for that choice. The top of the page provides context information: region, income group, the country’s GDP, and population.

Browse Topic data

The Topics page provides an alphabetical listing of sixteen economic development topics. The page presents a short description of the topic, topic related indicators, regional aggregates, and visualizations of key data. Users can also select a single indicator from the indicators list and view data for over 200 countries in the last five years.

Browse Indicator data

The Indicators page provides a listing of 331 indicators from World Development Indicators (WDI), listed alphabetically. World Development Indicators is the World Bank’s premier annual compilation of development data drawing on data from the World Bank and internationally recognized sources which help measure the progress of development.

Browse the Data catalog

The data catalog is a listing of available World Bank data sources and provides access to over 7,000 indicators. This listing will continue to be updated as additional data resources are added.