World Bank Group

A strategy for data sharing

Development Data Hub

Data, knowledge, and learning systems


With over 10,000 employees working to solve development issues around the world, the World Bank has accumulated its fair share of development data over the last seventy-plus years. Yet there was no process for communicating what data existed, where to find it, or who was responsible for maintaining archives— meaning a lot of work was duplicated or impaired. To simplify the ability of Bank staff to do their jobs, we partnered with SecondMuse and the Bank’s Development Data and Economics Group (DECDG) to develop a strategy for better development data curation, sharing, and maintenance.


In such a large organisation, users’ needs for development data were not going to be the same across the board. We worked with over 550 of the Bank’s staff to understand the range of their needs. Contributors spanned a variety of job titles, seniority levels, and technical literacies, and came from each of the Bank’s sub-units. We collected their feedback through workshops, surveys, and interviews in a process that lasted about five months. Our takeaways were supported by industry best-practice research and analyses of similar initiatives at other international organisations. This qualitative research process allowed us to understand both the day-to-day and long-term processes and needs of individuals, teams, and sectors in terms of data usage and interaction.

Using the powers of organisational design and one final, end-all-be-all co-creation workshop, we shaped our insights into a series of strategy and structure recommendations for a development data "hub". This architecture was accompanied by an additional outline of policies that would support future learning and development of the initiative among staff through the formation of an effective knowledge-sharing, analysis, and cross-collaboration environment for data users.


The project’s Strategy Report was presented to a committee of senior Bank directors, including the Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer. In November 2017, strategy launched as the Data Catalog, where data with different levels of access restrictions could be shared between partner institutions and Bank staff.

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