GIS application for Swiss National Boundaries released

Switzerland is sharing border with 5 neighboring countries (France, Germany, Lichtenstein, Austria and Italy). About 1860 kilometers of borderline¸ based on about 32'000 individual boundary stones and backup marks, has to be managed. To manage a such large and complex data collection with legal validity needs an adequate tool.

The management of the boundary is embedded within the Federal Office of Topography swisstopo. Swisstopo, famous for the high quality mapping products of national level, uses the ESRI-ArcGIS environment for most of the task within the field of geodata management and maintenance.Swisstopo established a production infrastructure called TOPGIS to create, manage, and update the new Topographic Landscape Model (TLM) of Switzerland and the corresponding. For a seamless integration of the management of the national boundary information into the TOPGIS environment a collection of tools, realized as ArcMap-AddIn's, was developed.

The requirements of the needed tools was defined by swisstopo. During several workshops between swisstopo and WaterGisWeb Ltd. the workflow, functionality and user interface of each individual tool was specified in detail. The result of all the workshops was integrated in an detailed system specification. The development of the tools was following the guidelines of the TOPGIS environment.

The GIS database of the Swiss National Boundary is a complex relational data model containing about 30 spatial and non-spatial tables connected by 50 relationship classes. The points and lines of the boundary are organized at three levels:

  • Import: Data under changes and not legally binding yet
  • Productive: Currently active and legally binding boundary
  • Historical: Data which are not legally binding anymore and which are redeemed by new data in the productive layer.

Besides the geometry of the boundaries, a large amount of additional information is stored, this includes damage reports and any other kinds of observations for boundary stones, treaties and amendments with the neighboring countries, contacts, information about backup survey stations, administrative order of the individual boundary stones within the system of the neighboring country and many more.

The database was developed by swisstopo using ArcGIS 10 and enhanced in close cooperation with WaterGisWeb Ltd..

To maintain the data stored in such a complex system, an adequate set of software is needed. The project was completely carried out by WaterGisWeb Ltd., acted as freelance collaborator. The project provides an extensive set of tools embedded as AddIn in ArcGIS 10 to maintain, administrate, analyze and display the Swiss National Boundaries. The tools are realized in the programming language C#. A total of about 45'000 lines of source code (64'000 lines including comments and documentation) for 190 classes of data objects, business logic and user interfaces were written between August 2011 and April 2012.


The tools are providing help for the complete workflow of maintaining and presentation the data:

  • Handling imported data. Manipulation of attributes and geometries.
  • Matching and merging attributive data across the editing and the productive levels, based on a set of geometrical procedures which are highly configurable.
  • Quality assurance by checking the logical and topological correctness of the data. The logical checks are based on rules which are stored in the database and may be adapted if needed.
  • Transfer of modified data from the import level into the productive level and historicizing redeemed data. Appling logical an topological tests to assure database consistency.
  • Administration of damage reports and any other kinds of observations which are related to one or many boundary stones. Documents, such as pictures or reports can be connected to the stones and retrieved by the application.
  • Visualization of all information connected with boundary stones by selecting graphically individual or groups of objects.
  • Exporting of coordinate lists of defined sections following specific rules of topology. The export includes a standard set of attributes. Additional attributes to be exported can be defined by the user.
  • Creating and updating annotations for individual features at different map scales placed with high cartographical quality. The annotations are based in individual defined attributes and can be freely placed within the map regarding the best representation in combination with other background information.

The complete toolset was successfully tested by swisstopo and released into production by End of April 2012.

news/gis_application_for_swiss_national_boundaries_released.txt · Last modified: 2013/11/09 18:05 by Yvo Weidmann
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