Google just announced that it now uses public data from the World Bank to display graphs for queries like "children per woman in brazil" or "internet users in the united states." To do so, Google makes uses of the World Bank's public API. Through this, Google can access 17 World Development Indicators. Google displays this data in interactive graphs that make it easy to compare stats for different countries. The timing of this announcement was likely planned to coincide with the news about Wolfram Alpha's integration with Microsoft's Bing.

Google vs. Wolfram

Earlier this year, Google also added data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau's Population Division to its search results page. The queries that Google showcases in today's blog post (gdp of a country, internet users in the US or energy use in Iceland) are exactly the kind of queries where Wolfram Alpha excels. Currently, Bing doesn't display this kind of data from Wolfram Alpha and just focuses on math and nutrition, but a deeper integration between the two is just a matter of time.

Wolfram Alpha uses curated data sets - just like the World Bank or Census Bureau data - to compute its results. Google's current use of this data is less ambitious. Google wants to make public data more accessible - Wolfram Alpha wants to be a 'computational knowledge engine' that can manipulate these data sets.

Google Wants Your Public Data

One interesting aspect of today's blog post is that Google points out that there are "still many other data sets and sources out there, and we're excited about the possibilities for the future." Google also asks data publishers who are interested in making their data discoverable in Google to contact the company.

In the current implementation, Google can display results for the following types of questions:

CO2 emissions per capita, Electricity consumption per capita, Energy use per capita, Exports as percentage of GDP, Fertility rate, GDP deflator change, GDP growth rate, GNI per capita in PPP dollars, Gross Domestic Product, Gross National Income in PPP dollars, Imports as percentage of GDP, Internet users as percentage of population, Life expectancy, Military expenditure as percentage of GDP, Mortality rate, under 5, Population, and Population growth rate.