Walter Baumgartner


Walter Baumgartner
The mayor

He lives and works in Villandro in the Isarco valley. No wonder he works constantly with applications and programs, as he's an entrepreneur who works with software. So his interest in Open Data, together with archiving systems and 3D applications, shouldn't come as a surprise, despite his education in law. However, he is also something else: since 2010 he has been the mayor of Villandro. Due to the fact that digital maps of the commercial providers aren't updated regularly, he was forced to find a solution by himself: he asked OpenStreetMap mappers to help him creat a map the town. Together they did just that, providing the areas with names.

How and when did you hear about Open Data, OpenStreetMap (OSM) and Open Source?

Back in 2013. The municipalities Consortium of the Province of Bolzano invited me to look it up, and now the town of Villandro has had an overhaul of its systems and is mainly using Open Source software.

Some pros and cons?

Open Source is a prerequisite for knowledge to be disseminated in the future for everyone.

What would you like to see in the future in South Tyrol?

Public administration should use Open Source more and more, especially the provincial government.

In 2013, OSM mappers visited Villandro and mapped it entirely. Why was there such a big interest on your part to have Villandro mapped?

I was interested in having the whole area mapped because your usual commercial mapping providers, i.e. Navteq and TomTom, the two largest digital map providers, do not update their maps regularly. Their help and tips section on their web sites did not help. We changed the name of streets in Villandro in 2009. Up to this date, the aforementioned maps had not implemented these changes; so, OpenStreetMap was an alternative and had an advantage over the commercial map providers. Hopefully this step would be enough to wake it from its slumber.

How did the project run? Could you tell us how the mappers worked on it?

I met the mappers at a meeting at the TIS innovation park and told them my necessities. They assured me they would come to Villandro to check things out themselves. I did not hear from them for a while and, to be honest, had stopped thinking about it. Why should someone take on such a job, especially if it was for free? And then, out of the blue, one of the mappers got in touch with me: he told me that some mappers would be visiting Villandro in a few days. I was ecstatic and organised a group of people with a similar interest. What was even more exciting is that the mappers had already inserted all the buildings of the village in OpenStreetMap, from scratch. The mappers came to us one morning. We know each other better in the village hall and they explained us one or two thing about OSM. In the afternoon we split into two groups and went around the village, observing the mappers at work. What was interesting to note is that they both used different mapping techniques: one inserted his comments digitally via an app on the spot and then inserted them in the computer at the town hall; the other jotted everything down with pen and paper and then added the data to the computer. The results were the same. It was particularly interesting to see how practical they were and to see which methods they used.

Mapping in South Tyrol: where's the future in it?

I can't say much about the overall situation. There are some mappers in Villandro, but the steam has let off a bit, I fear.

Tell us which Open Data project will your town envision next?

We will improve collected data and create an induction course for new mappers.

Further information

Website municipality of Villandro

Villandro in OpenStreetMap

Description of the project