Switzerland-wide holistic building directory

In 2020, Switzerland will have an official directory of building addresses for the first time. Currently, market participants publish, use or market addresses without Switzerland having a basic national reference system. This is precisely where the Federal Council has pulled the lever and amended the Ordinance on the Federal Register of Buildings and Dwellings (VGWR) and the Ordinance on Geographical Names (GeoNV). The Federal Statistical Office (FSO) manages the Buildings and Housing Register (BWR), which is continuously updated by the building administrations of the communes and cantons with data from building applications. On the one hand, this process enables the compilation and updating of data on planned roads and buildings. On the other hand, it makes it possible to follow the flow of construction activities (construction progress: in planning, under construction and existing). The data is final as soon as the reported buildings actually exist. The information taken from the GWR (construction projects, buildings, dwellings) is available to authorised users. In particular, they represent a data source for swisstopo in order to keep the official register of roads and the official register of building addresses up to date.

Implementation in the cantons

Implementation work is currently underway in all cantons. In order to have a complete register, the population of the GWR must be expanded to include all existing buildings without residential use, as these did not have to be compulsorily recorded until 2017. The data of the GWR must now be aligned with those of the “information layer land cover” of the official cadastral survey (AV) in order to be able to assign a unique identifier (EGID) and at least one address to each building. The scope of this work varies enormously depending on the framework conditions in the cantons. Some cantons have already completed this work.

eCH sets standards

As part of this modernisation of the GWR, the GWR interfaces were also standardised. For example, the FSO, together with the eCH “Object System” specialist group, has drawn up the two interfaces that have now been validated and will be implemented by the FSO in the course of 2019. The standards in question are eCH-0216 (updating of the GWR by building administrations) and eCH-0206 (GWR data to third parties).

Benefits for all

The building identifier and the address or addresses of the building serve first and foremost the purpose of quickly finding a building and its entrance(s). Today, this is not only essential to ensure the various tasks of public administrations and the private sector, but also useful for citizens. Below are some examples of their use:

  • Reference tool for policy making or monitoring of public policies (for example energy, spatial planning, hazard analysis, food chain monitoring, etc.).
  • Accurate location of all buildings and entrances for the user, especially for emergency services to reduce their deployment times.

Central reference component of e-government, in particular to simplify residence registrations thanks to the one-time entry of data for residents, businesses and institutions (digitisation and once-only principle). In the near future, swisstopo will offer services that enable the provision of GWR data for authorised users on the one hand and the efficient use of the directory of street names and the directory of building addresses on the other. The start of production is planned for the end of 2019 and will take place in several steps.


Additional information:

www.housing-stat.ch and www.swisstopo.admin.ch


ECH Association

eCH develops standards in the area of eGovernment. For efficient digital cooperation between public authorities, companies and private individuals. eCH builds on the cooperation of private and public partners. Specialist groups ensure that the standards are developed with high quality and free of individual interests.

AUTOR/AUTORIN: Patrick Kummer

Patrick Kummer is an engineer HES/EMBA and heads the Buildings and Housing Section at the Swiss Federal Statistical Office.

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