Launched by governments and local authorities, the idea behind opening access to primary public data is to help give structure to information and develop applications of service to the public.
What is public data?
Public data is data collected by public bodies (governments, local authorities) that is not of a sensitive nature, respects privacy (anonymous, with no mention of criminal records or medical history, etc.) and poses no threat to national security.
What are the characteristics of open data?
On the basis of the principles defined in 2007 by an American task group Open Government Data, open data must be: complete, primary, timely (rapidly available and updated), accessible to the widest range of users, processable by computer, non-discriminatory, non-proprietary in its format and licence-free.
In 2009, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) published its first recommendations in terms of standards and methodologies for the publication of public data.
Which types of data are concerned?
There are many types of data; they may pertain to descriptions of geographical areas (plans, cadastral maps, urban development), public decisions (projects, budgets, grants), local services (schools, localities and opening hours of services, public transports and businesses), or various implemented measures (traffic, pollution, environment, tourism, etc.).
Open Data, a vector of innovative services
Generally regarded as helping to increase transparency in public life, and thus to improving democracy, the Open Data movement is seen as a new channel of communication between administrative bodies and citizens. Facilitated by the generalisation of access to Internet, mobile terminals and geolocation, ICT developers are working on primary data sources to give them meaning, render them legible through web or mobile applications, practical and accessible to the general public. According to the Fing (Fondation Internet Nouvelle Génération, or New Generation Internet Foundation), “the data most often requested, in France and elsewhere, pertain to mobility and transport.”
To find out more
> L’Open Data à la loupe : A closer look at Open Data, a video from LiberTIC providing an excellent overview (in French)
> Comment parler des données ouvertes à des non-développeurs (How to talk about open data to non developers), from Fing