Laos: Students Make Use of ‘Open Data’


Students browsing Open Data at Library Week at the National University of Laos.

  • The World Bank's Open Data Initiative allows free access to online data on topics like energy, trade, and more.
  • Eight percent of the Lao population has internet access but the IT infrastructure is expanding.
  • Open Data in Laos can be a tool for teaching, learning, and research.

VIENTIANE, April 30, 2012--- With eight percent of the population logging in online, Lao PDR ranks seventh in Southeast Asia in internet usage. Tech savvy neighbors may have more netizens but Laos has seen the most rapid increase over the past few years, with the number of internet users having doubled since 2008. IT infrastructure is expanding to rural areas and more and more young Laotians are turning to social media and smartphones.

In March 2012, National University of Laos students started using Open Data during the World Bank-organized ‘Library Week’. The annual event usually sees the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, European Union, and other international non-government organization distribute books and other printed materials on development issues. This year, students were also introduced to data.worldbank.org, an online site which gives free access to the world's most comprehensive collection of data on developing economies. Users are able to easily navigate through over 2,000 indicators from topics like energy, health, trade, poverty, and more. Clicking on the Laos country profile online, for instance, will give viewers access to Bank finances, surveys, and a climate change knowledge portal.

“We hope that more people in Laos will access and make use of the World Bank’s rich data resources. Students and teachers can make use of the data and tools to enrich teaching and learning,” said Keiko Miwa, World Bank Country Manager in Laos, “Data on its own is little or no use; the value of data increases exponentially when you share, analyze, and use it.”

Library Week at the National University of Laos.Students wanted to see how Open Data could be used to search for trends in Laos’ GDP growth in the past decade and also in generating customized graphs that compared economic growth to those of neighboring countries.

“Now I know how to use Open Data- it’s very useful indeed. It will help me do my research study”, said a university student attending the event.

The World Bank established the Open Data Initiative in 2010 to promote transparency, participation, and accountability. Data comes from many different sources including the Bank’s 186 member countries and more than 30 international agencies, private and NGO partners. Data is drawn from the World Development Indicators, Africa Development Indicators, Global Economic Monitor, Doing Business, Global Development Finance, and more. The customized data is free for downloading and may be used for business presentations, research papers, newspaper articles, and more.