Big Open Public Official Data – What’s next?

Big Data joined Open Data in last year’s discussions.What’s behind this new buzz word? What’s the impact on traditional official statistics?

‘…. there are the open data and big data communities who have emerged over the last 5 years. Through them, we’ve seen a huge increase in the use of public data, and more importantly, potential opportunities to use new data sources and techniques – that are often faster and cheaper – to supplement, or even replace some of the work of official statistics.
Can this really be done? Can we apply the same statistical rigour to big data sources and techniques to help meet the goals of official statistics’ ->

These questions get an answer at

World Bank’s  Big Data and Official Statistics Event’

on December 19th.

Big Data Event


Paul Cheung will talk about “Big Data, Official Statistics and
Social Science Research: Emerging Data Challenges” offering an overview of . Robert Groves will respond to Paul’s presentation, sharing his thinking and experiences informed by his recent work at the US Census bureau.

How valuable is a virtual statistical system?

A new website developed by the World Bank and partners offers a virtual look at the complexities of statistical systems. The Virtual Statistical System (VSS) ( aims to “provide well structured access to relevant statistical information for developing countries and other interested parties“.

The VSS presents detailed information by theme and activity as well as e-learning opportunities. Users are encouraged to register and contribute via wikis and discussion groups.

Take a look at this new resource and share your views. Is this a valuable tool? How do you think it should be maintained and improved?


World Bank e-Atlas

The World Bank just launched the Atlas of Global Development in two electronic  flavours.

1) The Atlas of Global Development as an eBook, based on issuu (print is also available)

‘The e-Atlas of Global Development: A Visual Guide to the World’s Greatest Challenges is a practical companion to the World Bank’s popular Atlas of Global Development, now in its third edition. Co-published with HarperCollins, the Atlas provides a comprehensive overview of the world and its people at the start of the 21st century.’

2) The Atlas of Global Development as an interactive atlas (one more), based on CollinsINDiCATE


Both atlases draw on the World Development Indicators database.

Apps competition

Apps (for various ecosystems like Apple’s iOS, Android and also for browsers) provide a simple and fast access to focused informations. This is true for statistical information, too, where lots of open data are available, be it in static (csv) or database format (API).

Some time ago the World Bank opened  ‘The Apps for Development Competition‘. This competion ‘aims to bring together the best ideas from both the software developer and the development practitioner communities to create innovative apps using World Bank data’. (Winners announced: April, 2011)

I picked some interesting propositions from the Application Gallery.

World Bank Widget

‘The World Bank Widget is an online widget that can be embedded on any website. The widget recognizes what country the visitor is from and then displays basic information on how the visitor’s country performs against the world average on the first seven targets of the Millennium Development Goals.’

Plugin Dashboards

Dashboards are an ideal tool for displaying, measuring, comparing and analyzing different indicators. They give an immediate and straight forward insight to the facts.’

Development Timelines

This is my favourite. ”Development Timeline is a new web application that aims to add historical context to development data.’

It’s far from perfect, a lot of textual data are still missing. But the storytelling idea is fascinating: visualized statistical developments are combined with explanations on one screen. And it’s Web 2.0, too: Everybody can add such textual explanations.

Choose a topic and some countries and you see the visualization (comparable to Google’s public data). And the activate the timeline with the explanations … .

NComVA: Enable anyone to easily create and share interactive statistics news through our recognized Publishing tools

Statistics eXplorer help you discover patterns and insight to provide the basis for better understanding and decisions with the same tools and methodologies that today are used by our customers OECD, Eurostat, World Bank and many national and regional statistics bureaus. Passing on knowledge from your analysis and storytelling through our Publisher Statistics to your website or blog using a Flash based dynamic visualization. Statistics Explorer represents a unique and elegant layout where the visualization is in focus and user interfaces reside invisible in the background. An effective combination of time-linked views can simultaneously analyze and visualize data and help you make the right decision when you need to know more about national or regional statistics.
Customizable (Open) Statistics eXplorer is the generic version of Statistics eXplorer for customizing statistics visualization applications for any regions and their related indicators. Our standard products World eXplorer (nations), Europe eXplorer (NUTS2 and NUTS3) and Sweden eXplorer (counties and municipalities) integrate data from official databases (World Bank, Eurostat, Statistics Sweden, SKL, etc.) with your own indicators and let you, for example, compare your regions of interest with others.

Eurostat and World Bank data now searchable on Google in 34 languages


Last year we launched a search feature that made it easy to find and visualise statistics and public data. Our data visualisation tools are designed to surface statistical information about a wide range of topics – from energy usage and the environment to health, education and the economy – and make complex datasets more accessible.

In the current economic environment, policymakers, academics and individuals around the world (and particularly in Europe) want to ensure that new rules and regulations are evidence-based. Interactive visualisations such as charts and maps allow raw data to be seen in context and give helpful new insights that can lead to better policies. 

The data we made available last year in English was just a first step, and today we’re happy to share that we’re making a lot more public data searchable via Google – across 34 languages and Google domains.

We’ve been working closely with Eurostat to surface some really useful and interesting data about unemployment rates, government debt, minimum wage, and broadband penetration across Europe.