Zurich's freely reusable datasets

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The city of Zurich – Switzerland’s municipal pioneer of open government data – has simplified its metadata management processes. It has also made its open data catalogue more user-friendly and introduced open catalogue interfaces.

One of the statutory administrative and statistical mandates of a Swiss municipality is the collection, management and publication of data. These activities are funded largely from taxpayers’ money. One of these municipalities – the city of Zurich – decided that the time had come to make this data publicly available for re-use. A truly trailblazing move!

Through its new Open Data Catalogue, which is a core element in all its municipal open data releases, the city of Zurich now provides reliable and easy access to open government data. In doing so, the city fosters innovative applications without having to take any additional funding from the municipal coffers. The administration too also reaps the benefits from considerably simpler access to its own data.

Interoperability is key

Marco Sieber, the project manager at the City of Zurich Statistical Office called on Liip’s open data specialists to develop the new open data catalogue. After all, it was Liip who designed and implemented the Swiss pilot portal for Open Government Data (OGD), going on to replace it with the fully operational permanent “opendata.swiss” portal.

Both partners did not want to create an isolated solution for the city of Zurich. Instead, the goal was to provide a solution that would let users in the future locate the city’s data sets on the national OGD portal. The relaunch paves the way for this to happen.

Implementation using open source tools

To begin with, the project team and Liip established what users – both within the SSZ and among the wider public – would want from the portal. Metadata would help them choose and understand the datasets released by the municipal authorities. 

CKAN was used to develop the portal. Major open data projects from around the world, including the USA, United Kingdom and the city of Hamburg have used and continued to use this open-source data management software. Likewise, Switzerland’s opendata.swiss portal uses CKAN.

Access via interfaces

Using the de-facto standard CKAN means that software extensions can be used which were developed as part of earlier CKAN projects. This includes the publicly accessible catalogue interface which helps users search for and filter datasets. This provides application developers the opportunity to integrate data from the portal directly into their software.

Testimonial

«This new solution has drastically cut our workload and allows us to continually add datasets to the portal.»

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