Bild: starline / Freepik; Peter Kruppa


Freely available data

As of 6:04 pm on 20 Febru­ary, housed 8,527 data sets. This portal publishes open data from the fede­ral govern­ment and the cantons for the use of the public – and more data is being added to it on an ongo­ing basis.

‘Open data, freely available data makes our society more open, more inno­va­tive and fairer,’ says Florin Hasler, Direc­tor of He adds: ‘This focu­ses on data to which society is entit­led or that is needed to over­come socie­tal problems, such as the climate crisis.’ By this, he is refer­ring to data from the state, in parti­cu­lar. Howe­ver, he is also talking about data from private bodies, such as mobi­lity data, meteo­ro­lo­gi­cal data or topo­gra­phi­cal data. The coll­ec­tion of this data is funded by taxpayer money. In his eyes, making it acces­si­ble goes hand-in-hand with a funda­men­tal under­stan­ding of open, parti­ci­pa­tory government. 

Bols­te­ring society

It goes without saying that sensi­tive data, such as secu­rity-rela­ted data or perso­nal data, is not to be found on open data plat­forms. The fede­ral govern­ment, cantons and other orga­ni­sa­ti­ons have count­less pieces of data of rele­vance to society and, even today, a huge volume of this data is freely available via As of 20 Febru­ary, the plat­form was home to 8,527 data sets – a number that is conti­nu­ally incre­asing. For instance, the Fede­ral Statis­ti­cal Office provi­ded data on COVID-19 during the coro­na­vi­rus pande­mic, the city of Zurich has shared data from the emis­si­ons sections of its road traf­fic noise cadastre and the canton of Valais has contri­bu­ted data from its game­kee­ping depart­ment. Evidently, it is not always easy for users to find the data they need – as shown by the findings of a survey with which the nonpro­fit asso­cia­tion was commis­sio­ned last year: a third of users would like to see impro­ve­ments made to the search func­tion. has been colla­bo­ra­ting with the Fede­ral Statis­ti­cal Office, the opera­tor of the plat­form, for more than two years. ‘The measu­res deri­ved from the survey are inten­ded to help boost the publi­ca­tion and use of open govern­ment data, while also under­pin­ning dialo­gue between provi­ders and users,’ explains Florin Hasler.

Trans­pa­rent funding

Florin Hasler thinks open data has some­thing to offer the foun­da­tion sector, too. Foun­da­ti­ons have reams of data that does not need to be protec­ted or that can be anony­mi­sed. ‘Infor­ma­tion about their funding acti­vi­ties can be made trans­pa­rent,’ he says. ‘This would be of inte­rest to other foun­da­ti­ons, poten­tial appli­cants and the gene­ral public, as well.’ The sector as a whole could bene­fit from this – as could society. He thinks the tech­ni­cal outlay needed to make data freely available is compa­ra­tively small, with one prere­qui­site: that the data is alre­ady available in a clean form. ‘If someone has alre­ady struc­tu­red the data clearly, provi­ded the neces­sary infra­struc­ture and adhe­red to good gover­nance, they’ve taken a small step towards making this data acces­si­ble,’ he says. As a result, he also belie­ves that taking this step towards publi­ca­tion will have a posi­tive impact on the orga­ni­sa­tion itself. While an orga­ni­sa­tion does have to focus on its own data, it also recei­ves exter­nal feed­back, which, in turn, impro­ves the quality of this data. Open data forces orga­ni­sa­ti­ons to clean up their own data and store it in a struc­tu­red way. Howe­ver, for data to be used in the best possi­ble way, it doesn’t just need to be made available: it is also crucial for it to be machine-reada­ble and stan­dar­di­sed. This enables data to be evalua­ted and combi­ned with data from various sources – which enhan­ces its value. PDF format or proprie­tary formats that can only be read by a Micro­soft program, for instance, hinder the open data approach. To get the most out of data, it first needs to be made retrie­va­ble and machine-reada­ble. In itself, this would be a desi­ra­ble outcome. Florin Hasler: ‘Freely available data boosts trans­pa­rency, colla­bo­ra­tion and inno­va­tion within our society.’ 

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