CERN in detail

Before, you had to go on the TPG website to find a tram-route, use Google Maps to see an aerial photo of CERN, and look for CERN buildings on Now, that's ancient history, with a new Geographical Information System (GIS) Portal set up by the Design Office and Patrimony Service (GS/SEM/DOP).  It's a one-stop-shop for all this information and much more.


A screenshot of the GIS Portal.

Over the past few days, you might have noticed the new interface called MAPSearch that pops up when you make a building search using the Building and Roads field on the CERN homepage. This is a simplified version of the new GIS web Portal, a project on which the GS Department's Design Office and Patrimony Service has been working since January 2010. "In today's informatics age, we need to respond ever more quickly to increasing numbers of specific user requests," explains Project Leader Youri Robert.

This is more than just a new release of an old tool, it's a completely new-generation data management system. Previously, geographical data were stored on a system called STAR. This was not widely used as it was unreliable, slow and could not be accessed from Macintosh computers. "The new system is more powerful and user-friendly and has an array of attractive new features. The system was rolled out to the GS Department a few weeks ago and the feedback has been very positive," Youri explains. "The many users of our service will now be able to obtain paper copies of maps and drawings without having to come all the way to our offices. They will be able to download the information straight to their desktop." Another objective of the GIS portal is to bring as much information as possible into one repository in order to create a dynamic, attractive and user-friendly database, where people are happy to share data. With this system, maps and drawings can be updated in real time.

When you open the new tool, the aerial view of the site is displayed by default, but users can alter the settings to display CERN's official map, including road-names. And the map isn't just limited to the CERN site but also gives the entire Canton of Geneva, thanks to a hook-up with Geneva's own geographical database (Système d’information Géographique du Territoire de Genève). More specific information, like the location of tunnels or electrical networks and topographical data, can be accessed from inside the CERN site via the GIS Portal. The Portal offers a variety of useful features, ranging from simple building searches to the measurement of distances and the direct input of users' own data. It's also possible to consult the specific characteristics of all buildings and objects on the site. There are features to suit everyone's needs and interests.

CERN is a vast organisation with 15,000 rooms in 600 buildings with 1,500 separate floors. For some weeks now, Youri Robert has been working on a new tool based on the same technology, where drawings of all CERN rooms, by floor, will be available on line. The tool will give information on each individual unit (occupant, surface area, responsible Department, etc.). "Every floor will be represented on a separate drawing showing each individual room. Having this information available in the form of a drawing on-line will be of great benefit to many users, especially space managers who are constantly having to update their drawings as soon as a partition goes up or comes down or someone changes office," Youri concludes.

Try out these new tools today. The video demo here will guide you through the various basic features.




by Laëtitia Pedroso