Art. 8 - by Louis Platt - AFIGEO (France)

Starting in the 90’s, the local authorities and public institutions GIS services have been exchanging and mutualizing their data through local spatial data infrastructure (SDI). Yet, the first Open Data initiative only appeared in 2010, at the instigation of some pioneer local authorities: the City of Paris and Rennes Métropole.

In 2011, Open Data became a national stake with the creation of the inter-ministerial assignment ETALAB which mission is the promotion and development of Open Data with national administrations and local authorities, and the French Open Data portal From then on many local Open Data portals have been deployed.

The French Open Data Actors quickly got together to create guidance documents and promote good practices. Since 2010, through its working group OGC Open Data, AFIGEO has been working to develop Open data with the geographic information professionals.

While Open Data initiatives exploded in France over the last six years, the national legislation evolved much more slowly and now appears outdated regarding new stakes and the users’ and producer’s expectations.

Indeed in France the main law which regulates Open Data dates back to 17th July 1978. Called “loi CADA”, it set up an independent and consultative authority whose mission was to watch the freedom of access to administrative documents. This law recognizes every person the right to obtain communication of documents held by an administration within the framework of their public service mission, whatever their form or their support.

The transcription in the French law of the INSPIRE European directives (2010) and PSI (Public Sector Information) (2015) were a step forward for French Open Data. However, if the transcription of INSPIRE represented a real leverage for geographical data opening with the creation of a shared Geoportal, the transcription at a minimum level of the PSI directive (2015) planed the free access to public data. Yet the main part of the text consists in listing the numerous exceptions, and reintroducing royalties to get the data.

Despite some remarkable measures such as the French chief data Officer nomination or taking the lead of the Open Government Partnership, and the creation of national Geoportal for urban planning documents, French Government just like Parliament members and senator seem to have trouble setting up an ambitious law on Open Data.

However, the recent “NOTRE” law (passed on August 7th, 2015 and concerning new local authorities’ organization) legitimize the regional level as relevant to set up local SDI in order “to mutualize and disseminate geographic information”. This is a very important step for local SDI’s effort recognition. The “République numérique” bill (also called loi Lemaire) is currently discussed by the French Parliament and should see the light of the day during the second half year 2016. Open Data is one of the four main parts of this bill and should bring a real upheaval allowing a better support and supervision for the development of the Open Data in France.

More information:
French Open Data initiatives map:

Chief data officers:

Loi Cada: