Earlier this year, France’s Prime Minister Francois Fillion initiated the creation of an Open Data portal in France and today, this site, together with close to 350,000 datasets, is launching. Data.gouv.fr is comparable to similar open data initiatives by the governments of the U.S., Canada and the UK. A lot of the data that is now available through the new site was not easily available to developers before. This includes geocoded information, data about road safety, environmental and epidemiological data and similar location-focused statistics. In addition, the database also includes information about the budgets and expenditures of local governments.
The team behind the project hopes that the availability of this information for free and in a variety of formats will increase the transparency of local and federal governments, as well as allow developers, journalists and academics to analyze this data and create new services on top of it.
The U.S.’s open data initiative has resulted in about 250 citizen-developed apps so far, as well as about 1,100 apps that were developed by government agencies. Among these are tools to check the on-time performance of U.S. airlines and a map that allows Internet users to analyze obesity data by state.