Switzerland encourages and facilitates free access to information produced by administrations and its use. The aim is to enable the emergence of an open and prosperous information economy. Companies can take advantage of this.
Swiss public administrations collect a large amount of information, whether statistical, geographic, environmental or meteorological. Furthermore, it can be interesting for third parties to exploit. To this end, the Open Government Data (OGD) project was created with the objective of making it possible to use all of this information freely.
The opendata.swiss portal, launched online in February 2016, enables administrations and other organizations with a governmental mission to make information available to the public. This platform replaces the pilot project opendata.admin.ch. It is administered by the Federal Archives and has federal offices, cantons and the Federal Chancellery among its partners.
The opendata.swiss portal is one of the key measures of the strategy of the 2014-2018 Federal Council in the area of free access to public information in Switzerland. The authorities started with the finding that the volume of information has been increasing exponentially since the advent of the Internet and that it has a long-term potential to create value. This is even more true for government data, which is high-quality information.
Free and unlimited access to this information will allow citizens to better understand the action of the government and the administration, administrations to establish new forms of cooperation, scientists and researchers to conduct studies that end in new findings, consumers to make knowledgeable choices, and companies to design innovative products and services.
Three main objectives have been defined in the implementation by the OGD:
- Release of public information. Information is offered to the public in open formats that can be read by computers so that it may be reused freely. The legal, organizational, financial and technical conditions of information production in government administrations are adapted so that the OGD does not incur any excess work (“open data by default”).
- Coordinated publication of public information. A portal (opendata.swiss) has been put into place to centralize and facilitate research and the free use of information by the public.
- Establishment of a culture of free access to public information. The Confederation supports the use of information with flexible, uniform and easy-to-understand conditions of use, by attaching descriptions to the files placed online and through other modes of communication. A regular dialogue is maintained with the public to foster the emergence of a participatory and novel culture of free digital access.
A platform on the rise
In mid-October 2016, more than 1,500 sets of information had already been published on the opendata.swiss platform by about thirty organizations, including the Federal Railways (CFF), several federal offices, the cantons, the City of Zurich and even libraries. The information addresses subjects as diverse as housing, crime, education, science and health. Private companies can reuse the information free of charge for commercial use. Examples of applications appear elsewhere on the site.
Development of the portal will continue. New organizations will participate. New sets of information will also enrich it on a regular basis. A guide has been prepared for information providers:
Source: Open Government Data 2014-2018 Strategy of the Federal Council.