IDS Knowledge Services: Could An API Help End Poverty?

Greg Bates, December 20th, 2012

IDS Knowledge ServicesDo we know how to end poverty? According to the Institute for Development Studies (IDS) Knowledge Services we know so much that it’s hard to sift through the answers. Hard to find the right answers to create better informed and more effective policies. The IDS Knowledge Services API aims to make that search  meaningful by letting developers integrate data searching on over 32,000 abstracts, over 8,000 development organizations and on research in over 250 countries.

The point of the API is to allow organizations and individuals to find data that they can then put to a use that is meaningful to them, as the UK-based IDS Knowledge Services explains.

“Via the API, this research can be utilisedrepurposed and contextualised by your organisation to serve your, and your users’, needs and inform evidence based policy making and practice.

Data is published under the Creative Commons BY Attribution licence and is therefore free to distribute, remix, and build applications using our work”

To illustrate just how the API can be useful, the group created some examples. One breaks down the database of Eldis, a development policy research group, to show how many of its documents are focused on which continents. Another app lets you search thematically and then returns on your smartphone, the latest research on the subject. And a third example shows “shows the frequency of themes, keywords and countries that occur in the documents, organisation records and jobs and announcements held in the Eldis dataset.”

IDS, which sponsors research programs itself, is so passionate about organizing what they and others learn so that the information becomes useful, that the group has a term for the activity: “liberating research”.

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