Free Our Data: the blog

A Guardian Technology campaign for free public access to data about the UK and its citizens


Is France going to move to free geographic data?

In today’s Guardian Technology, the Free Our Data campaign looks at the example of France’s IGN – where 70% of its budget is paid by the government. That’s not producing the results that might be hoped for, says a damning report – and it recommends moving towards a model where the data is available for free online.

Far from encouraging the use of geographical data, the report says, the institute has discouraged the RGE’s take-up by setting high prices, despite a 70% government subsidy. The mechanism for setting charges is complex and secretive, relying on the “good sense” of administrators. Their incentive, is to get as much income as possible in the short term, which encourages squeezing more money from captive customers. Altogether, the inspectors find “a lack of rigour” in the institute’s commercial policies.

“This situation is responsible for the low level of sales and the feeble development of the geographical information sector in France, compared with other European countries,” they comment.

One problem is that government allows the institute to wear two hats, that of publisher and author. The report says that government has abandoned matters of geographical information strategy to the institute “allowing it to set policy according to its own vision and interests”.

Read France maps out the path to liberate its data for the rest of the story.

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