WASHINGTON, January 9, 2017—The inequalities that make some countries poorer than others include inequalities of information. To make sound decisions on economic development, policymakers need reliable and—just as important—readily accessible data. That is the concept underlying a new World Bank Group platform called TCdata360, an open platform for trade and competitiveness data from inside and outside the World Bank Group.
TCdata360 combines vetted datasets from more than 20 organizations—including the Bank Group, United Nations, World Trade Organization, World Economic Forum, and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development—in an interactive, easy-to-use platform. Busy policymakers, development practitioners, academics, and industry specialists can use the site to access, compare, and download timely data on some 2,000 indicators related to a wide variety of trade and competitiveness topics such as trade logistics, global value chains, investment climate, entrepreneurship, and the cost of business operations.
In addition to its comprehensive content, the platform sets itself apart through the visual presentation of information supported by tools that allow users to create customized graphics. TCdata360 allows users to create customized visualizations, compare countries and regions, and easily share charts, graphs, and maps through social media. Further, it adds depth to the numbers with curated country reports, data stories, and toolkits that put data in context.
Thomas Verbeet, an analyst with the WTO’s Economic Research and Statistics Division, called TCdata360 “a remarkable new data initiative … (that) allows sourcing new insights from multiple data sources providing timely and valuable facts for trade policymakers. I particularly liked the data mining visualization tool, creating new understandings by connecting billions of data points.”
” A remarkable new data initiative by the World Bank Group’s Trade & Competitiveness Global Practice, combining thousands of indicators across countries and over time, easy to use, and well referenced. This new online interface allows sourcing new insights from multiple data sources providing timely and valuable facts for trade policymakers. ”
Economic Research and Statistics Division, World Trade Organization
TCdata360 is now part of World Bank Group’s engagement in the open data movement. Timely, high-quality data is essential to enabling policymakers to identify economic growth opportunities, formulate appropriate policies, and design development interventions. It is equally critical to determining whether growth-oriented strategies are working.
Big data is poised to transform the way countries, institutions, and businesses tackle development challenges by offering new and more user-friendly sources of information. Advances in data science are transforming the range of evidence that can be drawn from big data in support of evidence-based decision-making for trade and competitiveness.
“The use of big data to benefit developing countries has been hampered by too many sources of data, too many versions, difficulties in accessing and using information, and a lack of narrative stories to add perspective to the numbers,” said Klaus Tilmes, director of the Bank Group’s Trade & Competitiveness Global Practice. “TCdata360 addresses these issues by bringing together all the relevant data in one platform, ensuring it is kept up to date, and providing tools that make the information easy to use.”
TCdata360 supplements a wealth of data already available on the Bank Group’s main data website, Data.Worldbank.org, and is part of a broader effort to leverage the power of data to help low- and middle-income countries spur economic growth by developing strategies that boost trade integration, enhance investment climates, improve sector competitiveness, and foster innovation and entrepreneurship. Related initiatives include the World Integrated Trade System (WITS), a tool for analyzing country participation in global value chains (GVCs) in three key sectors: apparel and footwear; electronics; and automotive goods.
“Making more data from more sources easier to reuse is one of the goals of the Bank Group’s open data initiative, and the TCdata360 website is another step in that direction,” said Haishan Fu, Director of the World Bank Development Data Group, whose team launched the World Bank open data website. “TCdata360 expands our suite of thematic websites designed to serve audiences looking for a wider range of data on a specific topic.”
TCdata360 is conceived not just as a source of information but as an interactive forum for engagement on trade and competitiveness challenges.
“We really want to build a community around this,” said Prasanna Lal Das, a lead knowledge management officer with T&C and one of the designers of TCdata360s. “We don’t see it as a product; we see it as a platform. We don’t see it as a closed web site; we see it as a growing ecosystem.”