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24 January 2012, 12:43

France launches open data portal

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France has launched a beta version of an open data portal under the domain data.gouv.frFrench language link. According to a French government announcementFrench language link referenced by the European Commission's Joinup, the web site, which launched on 5 December 2011, makes government data available to the public free of charge and without restrictions. The portal currently provides access to around 350,000 government records, including the budgets for 2011 and 2012, air quality data, a summary of accidents resulting in personal injury, geographic data on more than 3,000 railway stations, and the catalogue of the French national library.

The data published at is released under an open licence (License Ouverte)French language link which allows the data to be used for any purpose. It is mainly provided in easily processable .xls and .csv formats. Businesses, researchers and citizens are being called upon to develop new uses for this public data.

The objective of the initiative is to increase transparency at government agencies by providing the public with access to the data that the government uses as the basis for its decision making. The French government is also hoping that the availability of this data will lead to the development of new business models.

The French government's open data portal is one of a growing number of open data initiatives aimed at opening up government data for general use. The web site contains a list of links to open data portals operated by other countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Canada and South Korea.

The European Commission is also working on a uniform European open data strategy. In Europe, Belgium, the UK, Estonia, Ireland, Italy, Moldova, the Netherlands, Norway, Austria and Spain already have open data portals providing access to government data. In Germany, open data initiatives have so far been limited to local projects such as the State of Berlin's open data portal. In December last year, the US government, which pioneered open data, open sourced the software behind

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