Swiss Open Data Alps

The goal of this project is to explore interactive visualization of open data in a graphically rich, game-like 3D environment. We do this by developing a framework for rendering geographic and statistical data using WebGL technology - already supported in most popular browsers - combined with traditional dataviz tools and standards such as D3, GeoJSON and OpenLayers. Open data about Switzerland is portrayed in our first live site.

Live demo:

Data sources

A backlog of links and examples is shared here. We are looking for ideas of what data to include or adapt this visualization to other uses - please comment on the forum. Current datasets visualized:

Shape of Switzerland: swiss-maps were prepared and openly licensed by Interactive Things. The simplified GeoJSON files are relatively straightforward to convert to polygons using D3 and extrude in 3D space, and the latest version has no holes. The bounding boxes are used to make data pyramids. If you click the Labels button, the names of the cantons are displayed.

Geolocation: if your browser supports it and you opt-in, your present location is shown as a blue dot on the map (assuming you are geolocated in Switzerland at the moment).

Height map (Height button): This was recently added to the same place as the shape files, and we are extruding the mountains into 3D here from a slightly amplified version of the countour map herrstucki has shared.

Official map: (Swisstopo button) is loaded in the background using the GeoAdmin API, then the tile images are hand-aligned onto a texture. It would be difficult to do a zoomable version until we can move to OpenLayers 3 which has built-in WebGL support - this was briefly attempted. Note: disabled due to glitches.

Population: (2014, +, - buttons) Szenarien zur Bevölkerungsentwicklung der Kantone der Schweiz 2010-2035 (Anzahl nach Altersklassen und Kantonen gemäss dem mittleren Szenario AR-00-2010, BFS). This gives us the current population per canton, and an estimate for about the next 20 years. JSON was created out of this data using Open Refine.

Commuters: Pendlermobilität in der Schweiz 2011 (BFS) is a newly released report that paints a picture of how people commute inside of Switzerland. We just converted the basic commuters-by-canton table into JSON with Open Refine.

Antennas: the locations of mobile towers in the Canton of Geneva, extracted for us by SITG and converted into OpenStreetMap format, make evident the terrain and elevation profile around the lake of Geneva due to their height data and relatively high density.

Heatmap: Annual temperature trends (MeteoSchweiz) shows the increase in °C/Decade around the country. We matched these numbers by hand with the location of the primary measuring stations found in the List of changed station names, which we geocoded with OpenStreetMap's Nominatim. This was something of a painful exercise so we are looking forward to more open weather data! Note: disabled due to glitches. Current plan is to use the new OGD portal data.


  • loleg (design, development)

Thanks to Barbara Kummler and Christine Perey for help with the concept and data wrangling.

This visualization was created using the following tools: