Google routes World Bank data to fact seekers

Google is adding World Bank figures to Internet results in a bid to make hard facts about countries worldwide easier to find.

A "public data" feature launched about six months ago with continually updated US population and employment figures will now also include World Bank numbers, Google search team product manager Ola Rosling told AFP on Wednesday.

For example, online searches for fertility rates in Europe or the gross domestic product of Somalia now trigger results pages topped with links to World Bank data presented in interactive charts for easy comparisons.

"There is a lot of noise in results for those that want to get to the raw data and not interpretations of the data," Rosling said.

"This is a first baby step toward solving the enormous problem of making numbers easier to find."

Google added 17 World Development Indicators including child mortality rates; carbon dioxide emissions per capita; life expectancy; military expenditures, and economic data.

People, businesses or governments can link online to Google public data charts or embed them in websites.

"Our plan is to add a huge amount of sources," Rosling said. "Eventually, we would like to have all of these data sources well organized."

A challenge to the growth of the fact-finding search service is that a lot of public data has yet to be made available on the Internet, according to Google.

Rosling sees that barrier eroding as more governments and agencies embrace Internet technologies.

"There are technical challenges; making sure we don't screw up pulling the data and introduce any errors," Rosling said. "The huge challenge is getting the actual numbers, but that will probably change in the future."

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