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CH: Free software to allow access to Confederation geoportal via mobile terminals

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The Federal Administration has developed jointly with the cantons, cities, universities and private companies a project for a free web-based geographic application that allows access to the geoportal ‘geo.admin.ch’ via a simple web browser running on a mobile terminal. To ensure the widest possible distribution in the supply of mobile terminals, a web-based solution was chosen: an open software platform will be used that is independent of the operating system and the browser.

With up to 10 000 visitors per day, the geodata platform ‘http://map.geo.admin.ch’ responds to the need of a large segment of the population. The next step was to provide the same service for mobile terminals with small screens.

The initial development was carried out by developers from several countries during a 5-day code sprint between 21-25 February 2011 at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Various international actors and the public or private sectors provided sponsorship. During the course of the event, the existing free OpenLayers software was extended to accommodate the requirements of mobile terminals.

No special hardware or proprietary software will be demanded of the end user. The following features will enable mobile access to spatial data: selected data set, a postal code and cities search, automatic positioning, support for multiple languages ​​and the opportunity to announce revisions to content.

The use of free software enables the development of a solution without being concerned about license fees. The use of open standards ensures, in turn, the sustainability of investments for each of the partners involved and enables them to create synergies with other public and private sector actors. The project will be coordinated by ‘geo.admin.ch’, which is operated by the Federal Office of Topography swisstopo.  

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