On Thursday we had the good fortune to attend the World Bank’s Apps for Development Awards. The Bank’s 2010 decision to open up its massive data sets creates a phenomenal opportunity for developers (think: Angry Birds) to foster development (think: Quality of Human Life), and the Apps contest was a showcase for that potential. Next week I’ll highlight some of the great apps that were recognized Thursday.

World Bank President Bob Zoellick also used the occasion to announce the 2011 World Development Indicators. Zoellick appears to be a strong champion for digital and data-driven initiatives at the Bank, and the success of the contest could serve as a useful nudge towards further online engagement. The contest generated over 10,000 votes on various applications, and – perhaps most important to Bank officials – over a third of the applicants came out of Africa.

world bank apps awards

Rosetta Stone CEO Tom Adams was also on the podium, and shared what I found to be a sharp insight, that much of the innovation in the near decades will come from the developing world, as the unique challenges and limitations of such environments will spark unique solutions.

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