This is the first blogpost of the series of tutorials on “Numbers for Development”
By Rodrigo Calloni from the Felipe Herrera Library at the Inter-American Development Bank
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) recently launched its Open Data Portal called “Numbers for Development” which allows you to explore, visualize and reuse the Bank’s data on social and economic development in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“Numbers for Development” compiles over 1700 multi-sectorial indicators from 26 countries in the region into one single place. This data has been collected by the Bank for over 50 years. The new portal includes data on many different topics, including macroeconomics, social inclusion and global integration. In addition, there are over 30 IDB specialized datasets and open visualizations available to view and download.
In this blogpost, I will highlight five special features of this portal:
Analyze and compare socio-economic indicators by country
One of the key goals of “Numbers for Development” is to create a seamless experience that allows you to compare and analyze trends in IDB-developed sectors and economic indicators from different aspects of development, such as macroeconomic and social factors. To build your own comparisons, follow these steps:
- Find the country you want to create the data comparison for by using the IDB’s Data Search Panel (blue bar):
- For this example I’ve picked Colombia. When I click on my choice, the portal offers me a list of available socio-economic indicators. Then, I select % of households with access to improved sanitation facilities and % of households with access to piped water, and the visualization comparing them will appear at the top of the page in the area we call the “Data Dashboard”:
Using the Data Dashboard “Time Period” scroll, you can quickly move the bullet to another year and see the data for that year.
At any moment you can opt to download the data by using the “Data Download” option on the Data Dashboard (down arrow button).
Access unique set of indicators carefully curated by IDB’s specialists
The indicators available on “Numbers for Development” include Dollarization, Domestic Public Debt, Poverty Wage and Percent Participation in Pension and Social Security. We are also introducing an indicator on Remittances that has been formulated by IDB’s macroeconomic economists. To compare the country trends related to this indicator:
- Type Remittances in the left search box on the Data Search Panel (blue bar). The respective indicators will appear.
- Once you select an indicator, for example “Remittances: % of GDP”, the “Indicator View” will be displayed. There you can select the countries you want to compare and the graph will appear:
If you prefer to create a bar chart for one or several years that lists all countries, click on the year headers and the new graph will appear:
Download editable graphs in Excel for further data analysis
From the “Explore and Download Data” menu, “Numbers for Development” allows you to download visualizations along with their parent data in an Excel file which you can edit later for use in your own research. You can modify the chart by imputating your own data (using your preferred methodology), adding labels or text, and so on. The chart will change accordingly. To download this very cool file, simply click the down arrow button on the Data Dashboard:
API: Raw data for Developers
As an Open Data Portal, “Numbers for Development” provides an API (Application Programming Interface) that allows direct access to the indicator’s raw data. This allows software developers to enhance their websites/apps by leveraging the IDB’s data. As the data gets refreshed in the portal, they will flow automatically into the systems that are using the API, making it a fully dynamic experience for the users of these applications. All the documentation you need on the Basic Call Structure for the API is available on our site.
Quick View: A Snapshot of Our Data
On the home page you will find a section called “Quick View”, where you can view and compare data by indicator and country. On the left side of the screen, you can use the “Country View” to build a quick comparison by selecting one country and two featured indicators. On the right side, you can use the “Indicator View” to compare the trends of one indicator and up to seven countries:
Now it’s time for you to give it a try and experience IDB’s Numbers for Development. What is the feature you like the most? Do you plan to use our API? What about sharing your visualizations on Facebook or Twitter? Don’t forget to use descriptive hashtags that represent the topics of your graph (for example: #remittances or #middleclass) so that researchers can locate and use your work. You can also include the #OpenData hashtag when sharing “Numbers for Development” data through your favorite social media channels.
Keep in touch and include your comments and ideas on the open data portal below! You can also write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell us how you’re using the new open data portal! We’re here to support and showcase all innovative initiatives that can come of having IDB’s data open to the public!
As the leader of the Library Systems team for the Felipe Herrera Library, Rodrigo works on planning and developing solutions that facilitate the access and dissemination of IDB Publications through the use of the industry’s best practices and standards. Rodrigo also leads the development of the IDB’s Numbers for Development Open Data Portal and works to engage IDB specialists on opening and promoting IDB’s data through the development of insightful visualizations. Rodrigo previously worked as a System Librarian for Ex Libris in both the Brazil and United Kingdom offices. He is from Brazil, and has a bachelor’s degree in Librarianship from the Universidade de São Paulo.