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France launches open data portal

The H Open - 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 data.gouv.fr 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.