TYDAC and Open (Geo)Data

TYDAC analyses the Open Data situation in Switzerland

TYDAC and Open (Geo)Data

opendata.ch says: Making data public, freely available and usable to anyone provides more transparency, innovation and efficiency — this is Open Data.

On September 19, 2002 (!) a TYDAC event took place named "Open Source and Open Data". This indeed long before anyone else started to talk about it despite doing it (opendata.ch started eight years later, in 2010). Daniel Morisette, Canada, known as the mother of UMN MapServer (besides Steve Lime as father), was our keynote speaker at that time with two presentations: Open Source GIS and UMN MapServer. One other speaker was Rolf Buser (Kogis, presentation here). As representative of the Swiss Government he stated: "The easy and affordable access for all basic geodata is the central purpose of the current strategy". Since then, the exact opposite happened: swisstopo increased pricing for geodata usage on the internet dramatically (Pricing is simply terrific! By pixel!).

Our opinion is, that data belongs to the ones who paid for. Means: all government data is owned by the taxpayer. It is just madness, if government impedes access to valuable data either just not giving any access or by fantasy pricing. The value of data is solely and only in its wide usage - not used data is worthless and hindering usage is stupid. But: our study shows that something is changing. Many cantons are front runners when it comes to open data. Eight of them have 100% open data! Congratulations! "Best of" are Geneva,  The Grisons and Solothurn, our winners in the ratings. The bottom is built by swisstopo and Lucerne with their awkwardness and pricing.

An example of madness we came across shows how foolish it can go. All cantons are capturing data about rest areas for wild animals. Entering such areas (for example hikers or skiers) is forbidden and is prosecuted by law. Why would someone digitize such areas, if not for being able to inform the public? As we asked the Federal Office for the Environment if we could publish the data on mapplus.ch (widely used by hikers and cross country skiers), the answer was: No! Because of restrictions by some cantons. Unbelievable! Some people seem to capture data for the only purpose to sit on it.

open geodata at cantonal & federal level

With OpenStreetMap (OSM) citizens have shown how it should work. OSM is free and widely used by many companies and individuals (and don't be astonished: by cantons following a rigid closed data strategy!). How is the situation with the Swiss Government Units? We did not find any study or evaluation, therefore, we did it ourselves. Here are the results and our rating (German only, sorry).