Federal Council adopts “Digital Switzerland” strategy

06.09.2018 11:59

The Federal Council wants Switzerland to exploit the opportunities of digitalisation to the full. Within the framework of the new strategy the Federal Council will, among other things, establish a working group on the subject of artificial intelligence and support initiatives in relation to Smart Cities. 

The 2018 "Digital Switzerland" strategy defines the desirable goals and guidelines in relation to digitalisation in all crucial areas of life. It replaces the 2016 strategy of the same name and defines various new key themes for the next two years:

  • The Federal Council is setting up a working group within the federal administration on the topic of artificial intelligence. Headed by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), this group will facilitate the exchange of knowledge and opinions and coordinate Switzerland's positions in international bodies. It will submit to the Federal Council by autumn 2019 an overview of existing measures, an assessment of new fields of action and considerations for the transparent and responsible application of artificial intelligence.
  • The Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications, DETEC, will by mid-2019 draw up a concept and an action plan to support the towns and cities, the municipalities and the cantons in the development of Smart Cities, Smart Villages and Smart Regions.
  • Digitalisation is increasing the complexity of the tasks with which the federal administration is faced. The Federal Council therefore wants to promote the use of novel, interdisciplinary working methods and forms of cooperation. For this purpose, the federal departments and the FC will examine, until the middle of 2019, which specific topics are suited to an experimental approach which is independent of existing structures and appropriate to daily operations, and how this can be achieved.
  • Until the end of 2018, the Federal Council will be extending dialogue with the cantons on the overarching issues of digitalisation.

Start-ups are explicitly mentioned in the strategy. According to the strategy, attractive economic policy conditions shall ensure that Switzerland, as an innovative economy, can use digitisation as a motor for development and renewal. More concretely the strategy reads: “New business models have sufficient room for development. Start-up founders can set up their own companies quickly and smoothly. Young companies have access to well-trained employees and can grow fast enough to ensure that remaining in Switzerland is attractive for the company and that jobs are created and maintained. At the same time, it is important to anticipate the associated challenges and address possible regulatory issues in good time, such as an up-to-date taxation of the digital economy.”

Joint ongoing development of the strategy
The federal administration cannot shape digital Switzerland on its own; the economy, the scientific community, politics and civil society in Switzerland must also be involved. The strategy is therefore conceived with a multi-stakeholder approach. The Federal Council invites the various stakeholder groups to make their contribution to a digital Switzerland by following the above-mentioned guidelines and by exchanging ideas about ongoing further development of the strategy and its implementation activities (the "Digital Dialogue").

The new strategy has been developed in several stages and in consultation with all stakeholder groups. Key themes of the strategy were discussed at the national Digital Switzerland conference on 20 November 2017. OFCOM conducted an online survey on the goals of the strategy in March 2018 and some 900 responses were received. The results of the conference and survey were discussed and evaluated on 10 April 2018 in an experts' workshop, with representatives of the Confederation, the scientific community and civil society. 

(Press release / SK)

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