Building capacity to help Africa trade better

World Bank Group launches free, interactive, and easy-to-use trade & competitiveness data platform


World Bank Group launches free, interactive, and easy-to-use trade & competitiveness data platform

World Bank Group launches free, interactive, and easy-to-use trade & competitiveness data platform
Photo credit: World Bank

The World Bank Group yesterday launched TCdata360, a free, open, and easy-to-use online platform that collects, analyzes and visualizes trade and competitiveness data. The website is designed to help policy makers, development practitioners, academics and citizens better understand critical issues, and create more informed policies in the areas of trade, investment, innovation and the general economy.

“Accessible, easy-to-use open data can have significant economic and societal benefits,” said Anabel Gonzalez, Senior Director of the World Bank Group’s Trade & Competitiveness Global Practice. “TCdata360 provides a platform for transforming data into millions of stories on critical trade and competitiveness issues that provide the public and governments with better information to debate and determine policies.”

TCdata360 aggregates and visualizes publicly available data from over 20 sources including the World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Economic Forum (WEF), and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Developed by the Bank Group’s Trade & Competitiveness Global Practice, the new platform represents a storehouse of statistics where users can browse and filter data across 1,800 indicators, create visualizations to enhance their understanding of how countries and regions perform, and make more informed policy decisions.

“There are thousands of datasets on trade and competitiveness for public use spread across dozens of sources,” said Klaus Tilmes, Director of the World Bank Group’s Trade & Competitiveness Global Practice. “TCdata360 aggregates this data into one easy-to-use platform that is constantly updated and makes it simple for users to visualize and mash-up.”

TCdata360 allows users to customize their own visualizations to convey important trends at a glance across countries, regions and income groups. For example, asking “How long does it take to start a business in Kenya?” quickly produces the answers in a format that visualizes the data. Users can share the visualizations via social media, or download the raw data. Advanced users can connect dynamically all the data in the website through an API (application programming interface).

TCdata360 Namibia exports

» TCdata360 makes country-specific data trends easy to visualize

Why Data is Important for Trade and Competitiveness

Effective data in trade and competitiveness helps governments pinpoint how they can improve, how they compare to their peers, and what successes they can build upon. Trade and competitiveness data supports many policy objectives including encouraging investment, optimizing logistics, and understanding how economies and industries are linked.

TCdata360 aggregates actionable data from a variety of vetted sources, including internal sources like the World Bank Group’s Doing Business Report and Logistics Performance Index and external sources like the OECD’s Innovation Index and the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index to demonstrate to policymakers how their economies are doing across many variables and what they can do to compete with their peers.

TCdata360: A big addition to the world of open trade and competitiveness data

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.

TCdata360 SA overview

» TCdata360 provides snapshots of countries’ economic performance on key indicators

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.”

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 SA Kenya time to start a business

» TCdata360 enables country comparisons on thousands of trade and competitiveness indicators

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.”

TCData360 is available here: http://tcdata360.worldbank.org/


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