The swissinfo GIS

By Flavio Hendry

Introduction / Summary
swissinfo / Swiss Radio International (, an enterprise of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, has used an online Geographical Information System (GIS) for the past four years.The GIS-platform of swissinfo/SRI ( is available in ten languages (English, German, French, Italian, Romanic, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese and Arabic) and contains over 100,000 points of interest (POI), which is the most extensive database of Switzerland published online.

Functionality Overview
The application has evolved over a time frame of four years and comprises an impressive range of functions:

  • In total, there are eight different ways to zoom, pan or navigate the maps, which are normally only available in desktop applications.
  • Search postal codes, streets and over 1.5 million addresses.
  • Visualization and search points of interest (POI) in approximately 50 categories. The intuitive user interface allows a country-wide search of POIs (i.e. all restaurants containing the word "fondue") or restricted to specific cantons or cities).
  • Routing: Any identified address or POI can be used for routing purposes. The routing takes into account winter road closings and approximate gasoline costs can be calculated
  • Tools: In addition, there are tools such as distance measurement, redlining (digitizing of points, lines and areas), map-mailing (anything you see can be sent to a friend as an image and as a hyperlink), printing to PDF and much more.
Points of Interest
The most impressive of the applications is the wide collection of points of interest and the related information coming along with them.To get an idea, let's see some examples.

Traffic Information
All present traffic information such as traffic jams; construction sites etc.can be displayed.The information is "live linked" to the Swiss Traffic Information System and updated every nine minutes.In addition, you can look up many of the motorway web cams and see the traffic jams yourself and feel happy about sitting home in your comforting couch.

Alpine huts of the Swiss Alpine Club (
For mountain aficionados this is pure gold! You can search for any of the over 150 huts by name or by canton.The information of the found hut is displayed along with 1:25,000 maps of the Swiss Department of Topography and you have all the information you need for planning your hiking or skiing tour!

Image 1: The alpine hut and the lake of Saoseo in the Poschiavo Valley: simply heaven! (click for larger view)

For further planning, in addition to the huts, you can find the following information:

  • Hotels - if for example you really feel like enjoying a bathtub ...
  • Restaurants - if you have enough eating out of a backpack ...
  • Wellness, Thermal Bath and so on ...
  • All kinds of Sports offers such as Skiing, Skating Rinks, Sled runs, Golf courses etc.
  • And you need money? All cash machines and post offices are online as well!
Wireless LAN Hotspots
As an Internet addict, you really need this information.Most of the Wireless LAN Hotspots are available and you get of course the information how you can access them and if it will cost you something.


The application contains an impressive sightseeing database with all kinds of information.If you visit a region or a city you can look them up and see images and explanations such as you see it in a travel book.

Image 2: The famous "Zytglogge" (Time Tower) in Bern (click for larger view)

And many more POIs ...
To finish it off, there are many more POIs, to mention a few: breweries, jazz clubs, cinemas, theatres, tourist offices, youth hostels, castles, lakes, mountains, car hires and even ports!

All POIs are constantly extended, controlled and updated.Every POI comes along with detailed information such as address, phone number, internet address and so on.swissinfo / SRI works along with all kind of suppliers to constantly improve the quality.By the way, there is only one person working on that, so do not be scared to start setting up such a site!

Technology Overview
The application is currently running using the following environment:


  • Street Data: Navigation Technologies
  • Address Data: Swiss Post /Tele Atlas (Geo-Post)
  • Topographic Maps: Swiss Department of Topography
  • City Maps: Navigation Technologies derived Raster Maps
  • POIs: many different suppliers
The application has been developed by TYDAC Inc., based on the company's Web Mapping Content Management Software Neapoljs.Over the three years TYDAC is involved, several month of development were involved.Design and functionality of the application were jointly carried out by swissinfo and TYDAC and were / are constantly improved.

As said, the application has grown over four years and much functionality has been added.Currently the code is being reviewed, especially all issues related to performance and scalability.We are looking forward to make swissgeo much faster in the time frame of about a month.

About swissinfo / Swiss Radio International
swissinfo / Swiss Radio International (SRI) is an enterprise of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SRG SSR idée suisse).
It has the mandate to inform Swiss living abroad about news and events in their home country, and to increase people's awareness of Switzerland outside the country.

In addition to its short wave and satellite radio programmes and television productions, swissinfo/SRI has developed its own news and information platform, which is available in nine languages:

The company was founded in 1934 and today swissinfo employs more than 200 people from 24 different countries.swissinfo has its headquarters in Bern and offices in Geneva and Zurich.It also has office space at the federal parliament in Bern.

TYDAC Inc., Bern, Switzerland is specialized in the application of geographic information and spatial analysis in any kind of area.TYDAC has developed a broad client base and expertise in the application of GIS for forestry, engineering, telecommunications, market analysis, administration, education and many more.TYDAC's customers include major retailers, communication and utility companies, government agencies and a large number of engineering companies.

In the last five years TYDAC developed its own product, a Web Application Development and Web Mapping Content Management System called Neapoljs on which the application is based.Neapoljs is available for ESRI ArcIMS, MapInfo MapXtreme and UMN MapServer.

Further information can be found on

Published Thursday, February 5th, 2004

Written by Flavio Hendry

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