Digital Transformation in Geology

Geological data has a huge potential for many important domains of society: supply security, energy, infrastructure, construction and even security and health (earthquake risks, radon exposition, etc.).

For example, geo-energy investment decisions are highly dependent on data and models in 3D of the underground, making the geological data a crucial pillar for geothermal heating projects.

Very often though, such data is hard to obtain and combine with other contextual information. Some of the data might even still exist only on paper!

The geological survey of swisstopo has therefore launched the project “National Geological Model”, aiming at collecting, creating and publishing nation-wide geological data for public use.

Together with Camptocamp as implementation partner, the geological survey of swisstopo created The platform and its core - the 3D data viewer - provide an easy access to all available geological data at swisstopo for anyone at any time.

Long lasting and time consuming data deliveries are now a thing of the past, and the release of the data now even generates an estimated economic added value of 5-8 times the initial investment.


Building the 3D data publication platform

The 3D data viewer of represents the core application for exploring available data, previewing it and combining it with other data and personal annotations.

Camptocamp implemented the viewer and helped with data integration, making it one of the fastest and most complete openly available 3D visualization applications.

the viewer allows to gains insights into underground data by slicing rock and fault layers. Here we see the geological situation at a hot spring source in Yverdon. | © swisstopo

By storing in the AWS cloud, we can guarantee the great performance when processing large amounts of data, and finally the 3D tiles format and other OGC formats allow a very performant visualization experience for the end user.

CesiumJS as a 3D visualization tool was chosen because of the comprehensive navigation similar to Google Earth, though it did not yet support underground visualization. The project allowed Cesium Inc. to integrate the underground capabilities into CesiumJS Open Source, thus enabling swisstopo to support this feature in the main library in the long term.

An efficient collaboration between swisstopo and Camptocamp

For two years now, Camptocamp has been developing the core of, the 3D viewer, together with swisstopo. Applying agile software development in day-to-day business has proven to become a must-have for the project user acceptance and its promotion, allowing fast responses to technological innovations and market environment changes.

Applying the scrum framework has proven flexible and easy to use for all of the project members, customer included. The efficient agile framework is supported by a well automated software factory, which can be summarised for the last two years as follows:

  • 11 contributors
  • 2,400+ commits
  • 600+ man days of software development
  • 50+ releases
  • zero rollback
  • 100% uptime 

Development is still ongoing, although most of the main functionality is done. Ideas for future development are plentiful, which is also due to the very close interaction between actual users and the project team.

If you want to know more about the different use cases, the Swiss Geology Portal has consolidated a list of them:

 A combined view of building and borehole data | © swisstopo is just the beginning promotes the currently available Swiss geological data. But it also shows what is still missing: nationwide coverage for some data, more precision for others, and additional 3D information for the initially just two dimensional geological maps.

In a second project part (NGM-PROD), work is currently done on consolidating the data quality and filling the gaps, aiming at a coherent geological data coverage across Switzerland, as well as getting partners on board to integrate and disseminate their own data.

 A combined view of building and borehole data

Plans are big, but not only in regards to data. Visualization and data exploration capabilities will be extended to the support of voxels with filtering capabilities. And users will be able to showcase their own data and work to friends and their customers.

As such, the Geospatial World Forum has awarded for its outstanding work to making 3D geological data accessible to all in a low-threshold way on the internet. We are excited to be part of it, and grateful to continue the journey with the Geological Survey of swisstopo!

Join us on building more 3D visualizations!

The initial open data approach has proven right - simplicity of access and ease of use being the foremost concern for introducing a game changing tool in the Swiss geology community. In addition to open data, the 3D viewer has been open sourced since its very early days, aiming at creating a momentum in the worldwide geology community to join the movement.

It’s all there, and the potential is very high for using it not only in a Swiss context, but in any national context in order to publish 3D data - geological or generally spatial related data - and thus open doors for users and industries to accomplish efficient, best-informed spatial related decisions. Let’s get in touch and explore the different options!

Are you interested to learn more?

Please don't hesitate to contact us using the form below!

By submitting this form, I accept that the information entered will be used for the purposes described in the privacy policy.