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almost 4 years ago

A Global Challenge, A Global Response

(This piece is cross-posted from the World Bank's original post here.)

We opened our data

When we opened our data at the World Bank last April, we were excited by the possibility of users coming up with applications and uses of development data that we would have never come up with ourselves. What we did not expect, however, was the scale of response, creativity, and energy from the software development community, researchers, and other user groups from so many parts of the world.

We challenged developers

The Apps for Development competition challenged developers globally to apply their creativity, talents, and insights about social and economic indicators to create tools, games, or analysis that would help people better understand how to use large data sets to address development problems.  

We kept the rules of the competition simple: use data from the World Bank Open Data Catalog and frame the apps around one or more of the  Millennium Development Goals.

The world responded

We have been amazed by the global response to this competition. We've received apps from 36 countries; 30 of the 107 final submissions came from Africa. We received more submissions from Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya, and Ghana than from all of Europe.

Submissions range from simple games for awareness raising to visualization tools and research programs to make better use of development indicators when analyzing the Millennium Development Goals.

What excites me most is to consider what many of these same developers could do if equipped with more granular information including sub-national and hyper-local data. What we've learned from Apps competition in the US, UK, and Canada is the corollary to the axiom "all politics are local". When it comes to Apps competitions, the best apps are hyper-local. This is where people's daily realities interface with the value of information. Things become less abstract when talking local crime statistics, local school performance, and the quality of health care between providers in your district. 

The response to this competition underlines the enormous opportunity that exists in creating national apps challenges in partnership with government and other data providers. What will people do with local data when presented with the opportunity to make it useful to citizens as customers or users?

Apps for Development is the first in a series of initiatives designed to bring the development community into contact with the developer community. 

Now it's your turn

Developers have put enormous time and effort in creating applications and tools designed to make World Bank data sing. Now they want you to hear your feedback. 

By doing this, you'll be showing your appreciation for their efforts and and creating data for the popular choice award. What could be more valuable to innovators than hearing feedback directly from users?

Please visit the Apps for Development website and vote for your favorite apps. You can vote for as many as you like! 

FYI. Our Open Data initiative has gained so much internal traction, we just announced we're recruiting an Open Data Evangelist to join our team at the World Bank!