of Architecture


Cartography and GIS


Since 2020 the observatory has been expanding its know-how of interactive digital cartography, primarily through the use of ArcGIS-online software (©ESRI). Web-mapping techniques allow the users to directly interact with the map, querying and visualize geodata information online.

There are currently three web-mapping projects underway:

  • Ticino a te: the map of local food producers. OST in collaboration with the Centro di competenze agro-alimentari Ticino (CCAT) of Sant'Antonino has created the Web-app “Ticino a te” with the purpose of identifying and promoting the local producers and their products present in their agro-alimentary network.
    Link: www.arc.usi.ch/ticino-a-te
  • Zone di attività del Cantone Ticino. OST has developed an interactive Web-map as a graphic support to the article “Le zone di attività del Cantone Ticino: cifre e tendenze”, published in spring 2021 on the magazine Collage - FSU, which allows to easily identify the working areas of Canton Ticino and the main information regarding the number of employees and companies of the selected area.
    Link: www.arc.usi.ch/zone-attivita-ti


The GIPSI tool combines a traditional GIS approach with a qualitative analysis of public space, with the aim of characterizing and qualifying the public spaces of peri-urban settlements in a simple and systematic way. It is applicable at a local scale and allows mapping public spaces extent, typology and qualities. The GIPSI tool is mainly addressed to policy-makers, urban planners and residents, and so it could potentially implicate an interdisciplinary participation involving different actors for public space evaluation, promotion and enhancement.

The Geographical Information
for Public Space
Investigation (GIPSI) tool

Cartography is an essential working instrument: OST in its publications widely uses thematic maps at different geographical scales, trying to keep up with the times. The thematic map is an abstract model of geographic space, which, however, allows visualizing events or phenomena not directly visible in the landscape, such as population aging or migration balance. It is a model that helps us if we know how to use it, and misleads us if we abuse it, because it is a symbolic transposition between the numbers in a database and symbols represented on the map. This involves a process of selection (of the information to be represented), choice and composition of the map elements (point, line and surface). The map acts as a symbolic mediation between the observer and the statistical reality.

OST, in its publications, proposes three types of “classic” thematic map:

  • Choropleth maps (usually with relative values, in % or in density);
  • Symbols Maps (usually in absolute values);
  • Line maps (representations of flows and movement networks).

Thematic cartography
The map as a model
and a symbolic mediation