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Open Data Stories 2019/20

| 11. Aug 2020 | in Allgemein, Daten | Keine Kommentare

Before and during the Forum we asked you to submit your open data success stories and failures. We think it is important to collect and publish these stories to show what our community has been up to, to reflect upon the successes to realise how far we have come and to think about our failures to pinpoint room for improvements.

During our Forum on June 23, we have received fourteen stories from you. If you would like to add your own story to our collection of successes, you can do so by using the following form: 2020

Findability of Open Government Data

To be valuable open (government) data has to be easily found and used a lot. Open data is published to be used and the easier it is to find a data set, the more it will be used.

Three of your stories feature the search for Open Government Data:

«With the Relaunch of the Website of the Canton of Zurich in the beginning of July 2020 all Open Government Data of Cantonal Organizations will be findable on our Website, too.»

«Road Names have been published as open data: Official index of streets (Federal Office of Topography swisstopo) Official dataset for “official index of streets”, ID196, as per the catalogue of basic geodata in accordance with Swiss Federal Law. The official index of streets includes all of the street names that have been officially declared in the Swiss Federal Register of Buildings and Dwellings (RBD). Responsibility for the completeness of the names in the official index of streets is governed by cantonal provisions.  Link: and»

«I needed a data set to practice ANOVA and went to to find one that would be suited for the task; I gave up after 90 min. I found the GitHub repository on COVID-19 data from the statistics department of the Canton of Zurich very reliable and useful for data mining.»


COVID-19 was the event that has been impacting all our lives since early 2020. The publication and use of data sets on the pandemic, as well as the fact that the importance of open data suddenly became visible is a success

«The COVID-19 data we gathered on GitHub was a huge success. It really showed the power of open data and a lot of people (including leading news outlets like NZZ and SRF) relied on that data when the BAG could not deliver. For the combination of different OGD publishers working together, joined by amazing people from the open data community to work together on this time of crisis was very inspiring. It showed, that we can “pull it off” when we have to. We were there and helped each other and created this amazing dataset for everyone to use. I think I will never forget the past 3 months and what they did to advance the open data movement in Switzerland.»

«Thanks to an excellent collaboration, we were able to open up our COVID19-data as open data much faster than expected. It was a really good example of who working together and examples of best practice helped to foster opening up data!»

«COVID-19 has raised awareness for timely, comprehensive, and machine-readable open data, which everyone is allowed to freely re-use.»

«Happy thought: the publication of data related to COVID-19 sensitized some of my friends to government data issues. In this context, it was nice to see individuals creating data visualisations for broader audiences, often during their own spare time.»

Open Data Projects

The completion of projects is of course always a success. Here are two examples of open data projects that were advanced in the past year:

«Simply generate coordinates of addresses in Switzerland and display them on a map (Success)  Calculating the coordinates of the addresses of teams, clubs, customers or any other group in a simple way and displaying the corresponding points on a map – that was the user-driven request we had again and again on 
We have created a simple Excel file that makes this possible:

  1. Download the XLSX file: 
  2. Open in Excel, follow any instructions for “Activate content”
  3. Fill in the addresses in column 1 from line 5 onwards. Click on Enter to calculate the coordinates.
  4. Select column 9 and copy the contents into a text editor – Save this new TXT file as a KML file (filename.kml)
  5. Go to
  6. and click on “Advanced Tools” on the left and then “Import”. 
  7. Click on “local” and upload your KML file. This simple file is downloaded by many government bodies, fire departments, postal service officials etc… and did not cost an hour to set up and publish on »

«I worked on quite an exciting project at the Open Tourism Data Hackdays last year which analysed the volumes of pedestrian traffic. This was exemplary both in its use of Data Science and in the way that the hackathon team – supported by the association which helped us access the data – petitions cities to implement foot traffic counters and share the data openly. This kind of analysis, by the way, was quite critical a few months later in attempting to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Swiss towns, and work on the open-source project that resulted at our Hackdays continues.  For my part, I am keen to see a #CivicUrbanism interest group start within to promote projects of this type.»


By facing challenges we always learn a lot. Here are some of the challenges you told us about:

«I have invited cultural institutions to open up some datasets, offering counsel, guidance, and practical assistance, but very few responded to my call.»

«I noticed (once again): Getting data cleaned in JavaScript is really, really hard.»

Personal growth and networking

Learning new things, making new connections, and expanding our horizons are some of the successes you shared with us. 

«I learned to work with WikiData in an introduction course by OpenGLAM and added data points regarding female directors of museums, which was fun and felt good! :) This is definitely something that I want to do more often in the future and encourage others to do as well.»

«My success story as a new specialist librarian for research data management: I got to know people who are willing to share as much of their data as possible. They want it to be citable, they want others to work on it, they want others to analyse it. Unfortunately, it became also a bit of a failure story because difficulties arose in technical issues. Where to store it, where to publish it, how to manage access. Together, I want to give them the best support and they should have the opportunity to become seen and recognized in their field by publishing data. We share a vision for that.»

«Met a bunch of inspiring people passionate about Diversity & Inclusion in Open Data at the ODF conference»

Open Data Student Awards

Of course, we also consider the entries for our Open Data Student Awards as success stories. You can read all about the past winners and nominees on our previous blog posts: 2018 | 2019 | 2020

To whom do you want to give your data?

| 4. Aug 2020 | in Allgemein, Daten | Keine Kommentare

While we use WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook daily, giving our phone number to the local restaurant or downloading the contact tracking app is not an option for many of us. Covid-19 has revealed many things, including the ambivalent handling of our personal data. The nation-wide awareness campaign «Data Café» run by and the Mercator Switzerland Foundation is addressing a question that is becoming increasingly important in the current pandemic: “To whom and for what purpose do I want to make my data available?”.

The leading Internet currency is personal data

The principle of the «Data Café» is simple: Visitors receive a coffee in return for providing their full name, gender, e-mail address, birthday and canton of residence. Thereby, the commonplace online deal of “data for services”, is transferred to the analogue world and thus made tangible. “We invite people to reflect on the value and role of data in our society and make them more aware of the opportunities and dangers of data.” explains Nikki Böhler who initiated the Data Café.

Reactions could not have been more diverse

The Campaign was officially launched at the beginning of March at the Helmhaus Zürich. We have seen many different reactions to our offer to receive a coffee in exchange for personal data. From “my data is everywhere already anyways” to “paying with my data?! this is terrible!” we heard all kinds of reactions to our offer. Get a feeling of our the Data Café experience in our video trailer:

Visit one of our upcoming data cafés

After long break due to Corona we are now ready to get back on the road and continue our tour de Suisse. Our next stops are:

  • 08.08.20 – Weekly market, Lucerne
  • 13.08.20 & 15.08.20 – Kino im Kocher, Bern
  • 18.08.20 – Frau Gerolds Garten, Zurich
  • 18.09.20 – Rathaus für Kultur, St. Gallen
  • 27.09.20 – Literature festival “Literaare”, Thun
  • 03.10.20 – Café Mitte, Basel
  • 17 – 18.10.20 – Museum for Communication, Bern

Learn to understand, protect and use data
If you have not done so already, make sure to visit our website for short tips on how to better understand, protect and benefit from data. Sign up here if you are interested in joining one of our workshops where you can talk to data experts and ask all your questions to gain practical data knowledge.

Open Data Student Award 2020

On June 23, 2020, we announced the winner of the 2020 Open Data Student Awards at the Forum. For the third consecutive year, we called for students to enter the Open Data work they created as part of their education.

First of all, we would like to thank everyone who entered one of their works. All of your ideas were an inspiration to us and are valuable contributions to promote the use of open data.

This year’s jury consisted of the following people: 

Daniel Krebser; Founder/Owner/Managing Partner ATIZO 
André Golliez; Co-Founder / Managing Partner Zetamind, Vorstand 
Jannis Valaulta; CH Open Vorstandsmitglied 
Prof. Stefan Keller; Informatik-Professor, HSR Rapperswil 
Kirsten Dolfus: SBB Technologiemanagement / Enterprise Architektin

They had the joy of looking at all contributions and the difficult task of choosing the winning entry.

We congratulate Ueli Isenschmid, Anian Pleisch, Janik Sievert, and Severin Spörri for their winning project: Fahrgastzahlen VBZ interaktiv visualisiert

You can find the full list of all entries below:

Winner: Fahrgastzahlen VBZ interaktiv visualisiert

Ueli Isenschmid, Anian Pleisch, Janik Sievert, and Severin Spörri, ETH

The aim of this work is to present the traffic flows over the day in terms of volume as the number of passengers traveling and the percentage utilisation of the network of the transport companies in an interactive map. In addition, this report examines the traffic flows in the public transport system of the city of Zurich during peak times, with particular emphasis on the local bottlenecks at morning and evening peak times. 

Open Data Visualisierung: Landwirtschaftliche Betriebe der Schweiz 

Laura Christina Utz and Rahel Luder, University of Bern

Using a data set with 45’000 data sets from the Federal Office for Agriculture (BLW), the students used bubble charts to group and evaluate all 45’000 farms in Switzerland.


Franziska Suter, Tarik Mohamed, Helena Appenzeller, Clemens Widmer, ZHdK

This project investigates the spatial development of the former western tangent. The west tangent connected the motorway exit Shilhölzli in the south with the motorway entrance Aubrugg in the north and thus once crossed the whole city. 

Visualize the right thing

Boris Djakovic, University Bern

Which raw data should be processed? What makes sense to visualize at all? Which data generates the greatest added value? This project is intended to help identify and locate “important” data collections and to show which important data are openly available.

Studierende an schweizer Fachhochschulen

Luca Fluri and Koray Oezkaynak, FHNW

This project visualises the development and distribution of students at Swiss universities of applied sciences, focusing on gender differences.

Effizienter Zugverkehr dank künstlicher Intelligenz

Dano Roost and Ralph Meier, ZHAW

The aim of this project at the ZHAW was to control trains using reinforcement learning, an area of artificial intelligence. A neural network was created using so-called Curriculum Learning and open data from SBB, which increases the difficulty of the generated rail networks, once a certain rate of arrival has been reached.

Thanks to the Sponsors of this years Open Data Student Award:

Die Post Logo

Five Projects Selected for the Prototype Fund

| 7. Jul 2020 | in Bildung, Daten | Keine Kommentare

The Following five projects have been selected by the Prototype Fund Jury to be funded for the first Swiss edition of the Prototype Fund. They will each receive up to CHF 100,000 in funding, at least 5 hours of individual and need-based coaching (e.g. in coding or user-centered design) during the funding period, amongst others. The selected projects promote smart participation in Swiss politics by providing open source solutions and by using open data.


E-Collecting wird das sichere und einfache elektronische Unterschreiben, Validieren und Zählen von Volksbegehren auf Kampagnen-Plattformen ermöglichen.#ROUND 1 


FairElection crée un outil pour les organisations politiques pour choisir des candidat-es en fixant des critères de représentation. Le grand public peut simuler les résultats d’une élection passée en modifiant ces mêmes critères de diversité.#ROUND 1 


Projekt CH+ Games for Democracy uses game mechanics for political self-education and helps voters select their ideal candidates during elections. CH+ is based on co-design and invites users to be part of the design process.#ROUND 1 


Q&A Bundeshaus entwickelt eine Crowd Source-Plattform, über die Bürger*innen Fragen oder Anliegen direkt und öffentlich an Parlamentarier*innen richten können.#ROUND 1 


Voty brings democracy to schools and promotes the understanding of democracy among the youth in a sustainable way through three modules: learning  + testing + living democracy.

The Prototype Fund is a joint initiative by and Mercator Foundation Switzerland.

GLAMhack 2020 – an online success

| 9. Jun 2020 | in Uncategorized | Keine Kommentare

GLAMhack 2020 – an online success

The 6th edition of the Swiss Open Cultural Data Hackathon, carried out as an online event, took place on 5 and 6 June 2020 and gathered people from all over the world! The teams worked on 15 exciting projects, which are shortly summarized here.

1914 in a Timeline puts newspaper articles from 1914 in relation with media contents of today. The historical articles are drawn from two newspapers from the Romandie (French-speaking part of Switzerland) and can be read either in French or German. Culture in Time is an event calendar using existing linked open data (LOD) on productions, venues and dates to feed both contemporary and historical data into a cultural calendar.

Europa meets Europe is an artistic project that connects the Jupiter moon Europa with the European continent through the help of APIs: random images from the NASA archive are overlaid pixel by pixel with current webcam images… in rhythm with the Jupiter Symphony by Mozart.

Art exhibitions, 1945-2020 visualizes art exhibitions with Switzerland related artists on a map. It allows you to filter by person, by group or solo show or by year. Another type of map is provided by the Swiss Name Chart, displaying the most common family names in a selection of Swiss cities.

Another team working with maps focussed on Georeferencing and linking digitized archival Documents. During the GLAMhack, they analyzed ways of georeferencing a historical map showing the network of Swiss postal connections back in 1851.

SwissAR is a compass, a cultural signpost, a fun tool to help you orientate yourself when you’re outdoors! This web app uses augmented reality to display relevant information about your surroundings.

Interactive Storytelling Across Generations is an educational project which uses old childrens‘ drawings for different kinds of digital learning scenarios. It creates a bridge between generations and encourages children to interact and activate their creativity.

MountainHunt and Match with the Mountains are both inspired by images of mountain landscapes in Graubünden provided by the Fundaziun Capauliana for the GLAMhack. While „Mountain Hunt“ invites users to search for the mountain depicted on a painting and replicate the same image, „Match with the Mountains“ is map displaying the districts of Graubünden and giving an overview of the local mountains.

One team worked on the creation of a Swiss GLAM inventory, comparing existing lists of heritage institutions and defining a model of collaboration between the Swiss National Library and the umbrella associations for each archives, libraries and museums.

Another team analyzed art provenance texts in order to Detect Looted Art. Using red flag names as well as key expressions, the team developed a system to automatically classify and rank art provenance texts according to their „suspiciousness“.

Sir Dridbot Glamhacker is a chatbot which was implemented on Slack, the real time collaboration platform used by the participants during the GLAMhack. You can ask Sir Dridbot Glamhacker for film recommendations or for open data sources.

One team worked on a prototype for the web application Extra Moenia which connects heritage institutions to the outdoors. The user can indicate preferences such as the topic, the distance or the duration of a tour to receive suggestions for outdoor itineraries.

Finally, a team of students in Multimedia Productions at the FHGR Chur gathered video material to produce a #GLAMhack Aftermovie. The film will combine interviews with the participants as well as recordings from the live sessions to document our existing online adventure! Stay tuned for the finished movie!

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