Open data was born about ten years ago, mainly among Anglo-Saxons who have a data culture and more advanced models of information circulation.
Today, France has largely made up for lost time in this area and open data has become a real democratic element. While data sharing is not a new phenomenon, the demand from the French to access data is growing. Indeed, citizens want to access structured and reusable information from both public authorities (73%) and private companies (55%). The crisis has also helped to accelerate this trend for 76% of the population.
It is not a surprise. The French need to be informed and reassured. They also want to take part in government debates and decisions. At a time of generalized mistrust of citizens towards public authorities, citizens are no longer satisfied with simple speeches. In this context, we see the emergence of a new kind of web: that of data.
Tangible data more reassuring than speeches
If the health crisis is a factor of acceleration, this need for transparency and “proof by data” results above all from previous societal behaviors.
Indeed, if there is an immediate need for practical information about the pandemic, there is above all a need to walk the talk.
As we know, the French no longer believe in the overused marketing rhetoric of brands with regard to their environmental initiatives or their fight against animal abuse, among others. 56% of them want to access this type of data in order to guide their purchasing behavior. And this is also found in their civic life. 72% of them want to access data from their territories such as public expenditure (where do taxes go? How are budgets distributed?) – demography – culture – in order to make informed electoral decisions.
How do the actors affected by this request react? After all, the latter is legitimate and it’s fairly straightforward to answer. The key is to aggregate its internal data and link them in order to constitute a global network of raw and objective information.
Bringing together public actors and civil society
In times of crisis, data sharing really becomes essential. Public actors are doing their utmost to make information on the evolution of the pandemic available to citizens, in a transparent and educational process.
While Santé Publique France regularly communicates data relating to the state of the health sector at the national level, public authorities have taken over to provide local information.
This is for example the case of the Ile-de-France region, which shares information relating to the opening of pharmacies in the region.. In the same vein, the city of Issy-les-Moulineaux has published a list of businesses that deliver meals to homes: valuable data for residents of Isséens.
More generally, on an international scale, many regions use their open data portals to provide essential information to their inhabitants. This is particularly the case of the Spanish autonomous community of Junta de Castilla y Leon, which began publishing Covid-19 dashboards at the start of the pandemic.
Beyond the informational dimension, open data facilitates the work of experts, who can rely on this data in order to offer analyzes and continue to feed their research. It is for example the case of the IQVIA company which now provides exclusive data on the monitoring of antigenic tests in city pharmacies.
Access to public data also represents the opportunity to create links between public actors and civil society. This type of collaboration, which calls on collective intelligence, gives rise to innovative solutions and spontaneous initiatives.
The French thirst for information is also directed towards businesses.
55% of citizens wish to have better visibility on the actions and decisions of private actors. After having operated in secrecy for a long time, many companies have been accused of “greenwashing”.
In order to fight against this, Barbara Pompili, the current Minister of Ecological Transition, recently launched a mission against greenwashing. Some large groups are ahead on the subject and have already understood the value of using open data as the most objective expression of proof. This is the case with Kering, which has chosen to quantify and make available information on the ecological impact of the group’s activities – measuring the impact in euros of the use of water for its tannery activity –
Today, businesses are increasingly aware of the opportunities that data sharing represents. Challenged by consumers and influencers, they use open data as an information and communication tool to report on their environmental and societal actions.
If open data appears to be one of the key pillars of this health crisis, 42% of French people still do not know what this term means and 29% do not know where to look for the information available in open data! Lcommunication both by government bodies and local relays is more important than ever in the context of the birth of this web of data. Like the Internet in the 2000s, the web of data has the merit of existing, imperfect but solid with a truly global network. The crisis has revealed the power of data and the power of information sharing – it is up to everyone to continue in this direction.