I spent yesterday at the World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C., with hundreds of Open Data and Open Government experts and enthusiasts. Dr. Jim Kim, the newly minted president of the World Bank, kicked off the first day of the second International Open Government Data Conference (IOGDC) with a stirring speech about the universality of curiosity and the need for information. He told us about his three-year old, who routinely urges him to “Google it, Dada!”
Dr. Kim expressed his pride in the leadership role the World Bank has taken in opening data, and said “We (the World Bank) can and will go further in supporting transparency in government and public service delivery.” This is the goal of the open data movement –- it’s not about data for data’s sake. The goal of opening data and government is to improve the lives of people around the world through access to information.
Caroline Anstey, managing director at the World Bank, very eloquently said, “Open data is a public good for the public good, and far from being threatening, it benefits us all.” While the general feeling at IOGDC is that open data is finally a widely-accepted public good, there is still much work to be done in data collection. Only 17 countries in sub-Saharan Africa collected the data necessary to measure progress on poverty levels over the last decade. Once information is available, the job is not done. It has to be refined into a useful tool that citizens can use to affect change. Anstey outlined the chain reaction open data can propel toward “democratized development”. She also encouraged those who work to open data and development. “You…are no longer in the dry and dusty numbers game. You are at the front line of a powerful and transformational movement,” she said.
The IOGDC, put on by Data.gov, the World Bank Open Data Initiative and the Open Development Technology Alliance, continues for two more days. I’ll continue to add some of the most interesting tidbits to this Storify collection of tweets from the conference in the widget below. It’s being live-blogged and streamed so you can watch online. Check out the schedule and join the conversation on twitter by using the hashtag: #IOGDC.