An Open Data Revolution

Aleem Walji considers the potential of an Open Data revolution on 8th October on the World Bank blog ‘Development Marketplace’. With developments at the World Bank including the Open Data Policy, Apps for Development Challange, and Mapping for Results Platform, he ponders whether this democratization of access will be as revolutionary as it has been before.

Walji asks, “who would argue today that libraries didn’t bring knowledge into the hands of millions of people and the printing press didn’t democratize access to information?” With aid information now available to “thousands of one-person think tanks working alongside academic institutions” in addition to the donors themselves, the playing field is levelled. For the first time an individual can agree or disagree with a development economist with conclusions drawn from the same information. Either way, a conversation can take place with all parties working from the same set of facts.

Here Walji has highlighted one of many benefits of aid transparency. Democratization of access to information fulfils the individual’s right to government-held information and avoids lengthy and difficult Freedom of Information requests. It also means that it is not only decision-makers within agencies, but also individual ‘think tanks’ and developers who can draw conclusions based on the best information available. This is an important movement in the development world, and may indeed revolutionise the sector.

Read Walji’s blog post.

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