MeteoSwiss gathers data on weather and climate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year: a wealth of data which the Federal Government now wants to make freely accessible within the framework of Open Government Data.
Liberalisation of data
In Switzerland, the free use of government data (“Open Government Data”) has been discussed for some time and the Swiss authorities have striven to implement it as part of various federal strategies. As part of the same project MeteoSwiss would also like its weather and climate data to be available free of charge and without restrictions on use. Initial results from the federal Opendata portal pilot project are positive. It has been running since September 2013.
February 02, 2016: the new Swiss portal for open government data (OGD) opendata.swiss is online:
The aim of liberalisation of weather and climate data is to enable greater use of data, resulting in new and innovative applications that benefit business and the general public.
Link between liberalisation of data and federal cost-cutting measures
In order for MeteoSwiss to make data freely available, the Federal Act on Meteorology and Climatology must be revised. The Federal Assembly has passed a motion to request that the Federal Council develop a draft revision of the act.
The parties, cantons and municipalities, associations and public were invited to provide their opinions on the draft in a consultation procedure that ended in autumn 2014. No substantial modifications were requested. In view of the bleak economic outlook, however, the Federal Council has decided not to proceed with this partial revision. Its decision forms part of the 2017-2019 Stabilisation Programme for which the Federal Council has opened a consultation procedure at the end of November 2015. The reason for not proceeding is that liberalisation of weather data would result in loss of income for the Confederation. In view of this changed situation, MeteoSwiss is now investigating whether weather data may continue to be provided in a suitable form through the federal OGD portal. This would ensure a certain level of continuity.
Slowing down the free usage of public data
The Federal Assembly is due to reach a final decision on the Stabilisation Programme in autumn 2016. There is a world-wide trend in the provision of weather data through OGD, with many countries making their weather data freely available. The World Meteorology Organisation WMO also supports this development. However, in Switzerland the development is now being scaled back. MeteoSwiss remains one of the pioneering pilot organisations in the implementation of the Confederation’s OGD strategy, and will remain focused on this work at federal level until further notice.