At the heart of the strategy is the consistent utilisation of the opportunities of digitisation so that Switzerland can position itself as an attractive place to live and as an innovative, future-oriented location for business and research. This strategy supersedes the Federal Council's Strategy for an Information Society in Switzerland of 9 March 2012.
The Confederation's digital policy places people at the heart of a prosperous, democratic information and knowledge society in Switzerland. Based on the Federal Constitution it increases common welfare, quality of life and sustainable development. It promotes cohesion between the regions and cultural diversity, and also strives to achieve national and international security and stability in the digital world. Switzerland actively promotes equal opportunities in the digital sphere at both national and international levels.
"Digital Switzerland" Strategy
The Federal Council believes it is crucial that there is scope for digital development of the economy and society. Political bodies and authorities shall facilitate digital transformation and support it wherever necessary.
The Federal Council shall be responsible for actively accompanying the rapid and comprehensive structural change brought by digitisation. The Federal Council shall use this strategy to lay the foundations and to contribute towards sustainably developing the knowledge economy in Switzerland. In so doing it shall adequately manage the risks which may arise in various fields through the use of ICT. The Federal Council is aware that the digital transformation of existing structures requires rethinking on all levels and challenges traditional forms of co-existence and economic activity.
In order to be able to successfully tackle the challenges associated with structural change, transformation processes must be cross-sectoral, interdisciplinary and networked. Switzerland is in a strong position in this respect, thanks in particular to its multicultural nature, willingness to engage in dialogue and create a consensus, in addition to its pragmatic direct-democracy processes. These are good prerequisites for a permanent national dialogue on digitisation with all stakeholders. The Confederation shall initiate this dialogue and assume a moderator role.
The Federal Council's "Digital Switzerland" Strategy shall pursue the following key objectives:
Switzerland shall improve its strengths as an innovative economy. It shall use the opportunities which digitisation presents consistently and provide the necessary basis for these. Information and communications technology drives innovation, leading to value creation, economic growth and helps to secure prosperity.
All Swiss citizens shall have equal-opportunity, low-cost, non-discriminatory access to high-quality network infrastructure and innovative content, services and applications. They shall be able to use ICT competently, safely and independently. ICT allows new forms of communication and supports political opinion-forming and participation for all members of society in an informed and democratic society.
Switzerland shall establish itself as a safe international location for data storage and as an ICT hub with a data policy which takes into account the interests and values of Switzerland in the digital field and anchors it in a regional and international context. Swiss citizens shall be able to operate in the virtual world as safely as in the real world and be able to exercise self-determination with regard to information.
Switzerland shall use the opportunities presented by ICT in order to overcome the challenges of the coming decades in relation to sustainable development. Digitisation and networking shall support the objectives of Switzerland’s climate and energy policy objectives.
Action areas and goals
As an innovative economy, Switzerland uses digitisation to drive development and renewal. Rapid technological progress in ICT, new business models, the increasing importance of data, and developments such as the Internet of Things are potential catalysts for economic growth and innovation. The Confederation shall create favourable conditions in order to exploit the potential of digitisation. The objective is to develop Switzerland's strengths (e.g. a flexible labour market, excellence in education and research and high-quality infrastructure) and to maintain these strengths in the long-term. A broad start-up sector which rapidly introduces innovations into the market plays a key role in this context. The effects of digitisation and automation of individual sectors should be monitored, analysed and any need for action by the state evaluated. Issues related to competition policy, regulation and the effects on the labour market should also be considered. Another key issue for consideration is Switzerland’s role as a third country in relation to developments in other economic areas, in particular the virtual European Digital Single Market.
The internet offers everyone the chance to successfully offer services. For example, transport services can be assumed by private individuals via a digital network and innovative projects can be financed via crowdfunding platforms. Improved coordination of supply and demand via internet platforms and technological development can challenge establish market participants. Sharing resources usually leads to their more efficient usage and increased competition, which can be meaningful from economic and environmental perspectives. However, weaker market participants should also be borne in mind. If the sharing economy is to develop for the benefit of Swiss citizens, it is necessary to monitor developments, anticipate any challenges and address any regulatory issues in good time.
The increasing worldwide use of ICT means that the volume of personal and other pertinent data is growing exponentially. A large number of different stakeholders are involved in this development. The social and economic potential of this development (and the associated challenges, not least in the field of security) are enormous. This requires regulatory coordination on a national, and where necessary international basis, in relation to access to data and digital content as well as data processing and security.
In the interest of good data governance, the provision of data as an infrastructure resource for free use shall be improved. Like the existing geodata infrastructure, the construction of a national data infrastructure shall help the open data principle permeate the entire administration, the research sector and parts of the private sector. In this context a solution for dealing with data from government-related operations in future should be found. As the guarantor of the public service, the Confederation must be involved in the network of data providers as a driving force and reliable partner and must promote an economically fair information ecosystem. As a potential driving force for new economic activities and new business models, such a national data infrastructure represents an opportunity for the Swiss economy. It will also help to provide new knowledge for research and society.
Digital content is one of the most important growth drivers for the digital economy. Expenditure on digital entertainment and media in particular will increase in the coming years. Consumers have greater expectations of the ability to access purchased content anywhere and at any time. These expectations are hindered by barriers to the international portability of copyright-protected content in Europe and throughout the world. The legal conditions for this must be created so that Swiss consumers can use digital content without any barriers whilst respecting intellectual property rights and copyright rights.
To implement the fundamental right of an individual to exercise self-determination with regard to information and in order to counter abuses and disparities, it is necessary to revise data protection laws. It is also necessary, in close cooperation with all data processing bodies, to create mechanisms and provide services which give individuals maximum control to allow or block personal and other pertinent data relating to the individual concerned for use by third parties. International cooperation and global framework regulations play an important role in this context.
A reliable, internationally competitive and affordable high-speed broadband network infrastructure is the prerequisite for the development of new ways of living and working, and providing new services and products in the information society. At the same time, technological development leads to increasingly powerful terminal equipment and to new services and applications, which in turn lead to increased growth in users' broadband requirements. Expectations of the permanent availability of broadband mobile services are also increasing. This requires frequency resources for the development of mobile communications and robust broadband connections. Switzerland should be one of the world’s leading countries in terms of the availability and use of mobile and fixed broadband connections (among the top five OECD countries). Network expansion shall be primarily market-driven and its dynamism shall be maintained by the provision of resources such as frequencies and the development of existing regulatory instruments which require revision.
Swiss consumers as well as Swiss retailers are reliant on delivery service providers for smooth domestic and international online trade. It is in the business interest of delivery service providers and retailers that ordering goods online is as efficient and transparent for consumers as possible, as this will increase the attractiveness of e-commerce. Delivery service providers should develop innovative, cost-effective solutions. The key factors for consumers are the transparency and price of delivery options and the traceability of delivered goods. These aspects of the service should therefore be improved. The simplification of general conditions in relation to existing trade restrictions could have a positive effect on international online trade, particularly with EU countries.
ICT has the potential to improve existing infrastructure capacity and enhance interaction between the various transport modes. Furthermore, ICT can link transport users to the infrastructure and means of transport when required, and to provide users with information. The combination of a networked transport system working at optimum capacity supplemented with needs-oriented information services will meet citizens' transport needs and guarantee sufficient mobility for the country. It will also protect the environment and reduce both energy consumption and CO2 emissions. The development of new, innovative services in the transport sector will also increase the quality of life of passengers.
Switzerland shall recognise the opportunities digitisation offers for improving energy and resource efficiency and shall actively exploit these opportunities. Switzerland shall promote innovative solutions by using ICT as a central element in all intelligent energy processes for various areas (networks, mobility, industry, construction, etc.). The use of ICT makes it possible to better monitor and optimise energy and resource consumption. End-users can assume a more active role in the energy system. The efficiency gains can lead to cost savings across the entire value chain. Intelligent networks (smart grids) and smart energy represent the future of energy supply. They will help to deal efficiently with future challenges and exploit synergies between the various energy systems. Digitisation will also contribute towards the increased integration of renewable energies into electricity networks and enable the creation of new markets and services in the energy sector.
The increasing importance of ICT in our society has a direct influence on the environment. The environmental impact of ICT during its entire life cycle - from extraction of raw materials and rare metals to the end of its life - must be carefully evaluated.
The use of environmentally friendly resources (metal, plastic, etc.) shall be supported during production and operation. Efficient use shall also be supported in order to guarantee reduced environmental impact. An optimised programme shall be used to recycle ICT waste at the end its life cycle.
Federal Administration and health sector IT systems must be protected from abuse. Protection means that only authorised users are given access to IT systems and that attempts by unauthorised users are blocked. User and security management is complex: users must separately register and establish access rights with every organisation that they communicate with electronically. The access data can only be used for the individual organisation. The aim is to develop a secure, accessible, user-friendly digital identification solution for the whole of Switzerland, based on international standards. This shall define the technical and organisational measures necessary for users to successfully identify themselves and log in with a single organisation and then be able to access the services of other organisations without compromising security.
The government must take account of technological and social developments in its activities, particularly in relation to its interactions with civil society and the private sector. Transparent, cost-effective seamless electronic services offered by the authorities will create added value for civil society and the private sector. They enhance the attractiveness of Switzerland as a business location and place to live. ICT help to optimise processes and modernise administration on all federal levels and also meet the needs of Swiss citizens living abroad. The aim is to ensure multiple use of different solutions and implementation of the secure digital identity.
ICT can help to significantly improve the quality of treatment whilst enhancing patient safety and service provider efficiency. The targeted introduction of electronic patient dossiers means that every person in Switzerland will in future be able to make their health data available to specialist medical personnel anytime, anywhere. Electronic health services must be refined, developed and made more efficient, firstly by ensuring simplified, secure access to data and documents relevant to the treatment and secondly by creating synergies between the various stakeholders involved. In this context the protection of personal data is paramount. e-Health shall also be the driving force behind the Gesundheit2020 (Health2020) agenda's reforms and all measures in relation to quality and cost. Cooperation within European health organisations shall be expanded.
Digitisation means that the Swiss media landscape is in a profound process of transformation. Digital channels have multiplied in the television and radio sector, and print media is struggling with falling revenues from advertising and subscriptions. The attention of the younger public in particular is increasingly focused on the internet. These developments mean that the media faces huge challenges in both economic and media terms. Swiss citizens living in Switzerland as well as those living abroad should in future be given the opportunity to participate in an informed manner in the democratic society, to form an independent political opinion, and to orient themselves in an increasingly complex world. The Confederation shall create the necessary future-oriented general conditions to ensure a modern public sphere with offers and services provided through the public service.
Technological developments make new forms of participation in political processes possible. This creates pressure for change in the medium to long term, because the possibilities of political participation must keep pace with the changing requirements as citizens' lifestyles change. This applies in particular to Swiss citizens living abroad. According to studies, electronic voting in elections and referendums is one of the most in-demand electronic services offered by the authorities. 14 cantons had conducted e-voting experiments by the end of 2015. The objective of the Confederation and cantons is to introduce e-voting throughout Switzerland as a third complementary method of voting. This requires the creation of conditions whereby persons with disabilities and age-related limitations can exercise their political rights autonomously and without discrimination via accessible systems. The digitisation of political rights should continue to be pursued in accordance with a "slowly but surely" approach. Continuous steps should be taken to improve the transparency and trustworthiness of systems.
In order for Switzerland to take advantage of the opportunities presented by digitisation, it needs the corresponding skills. Teaching ICT skills via the education system is therefore of central importance. One challenge is to ensure that Swiss citizens are able to use ICT in order to participate competently in political, social, economic and cultural processes, and that they are able to deal with online risks in an informed and independent manner.
Progressive digitisation is transforming the context in which teaching and learning takes place. The anytime, anywhere availability of knowledge is leading to an adjustment of learning processes and changes in the roles of teachers and students. These changes should be taken into account at the level of the individual, the lesson, the school (or other place of learning) and education and research policy. The administrative and organisational conditions for each of these levels must be designed to exploit potential and ensure a high level of security. As the issues of the consequences, opportunities and threats of digitisation concern everyday teaching from schools, vocational education and universities to further education, it is necessary to adopt a holistic, systematic, coordinated approach.
As part of their cooperation on education policy, the Confederation and cantons shall therefore closely coordinate their strategies to safeguard and improve quality in the integration of ICT into the education system. As part of their joint responsibility, they shall assess the challenges associated with the digitisation of the education system appropriately, report any corresponding need for action and contribute to assuring the quality and transparency of the Swiss education sector.
Education and research play a crucial role when it comes to generating, disseminating and using knowledge. These factors are essential for innovation, which in turn has an effect on economic, social and cultural development. In order to meet the needs of our digital society and economy, and in order to maintain Switzerland's leading position as a location for innovation and research, there should be a targeted approach to the promotion of new education and training opportunities, university teaching positions and research centres, taking into account division of skills and university autonomy. The objective is to ensure the availability of specific skills in the fields of data analytics, data-driven innovation, artificial intelligence, robotics and the Internet of Things. Research into the consequences and social impact of these technologies shall be considered as part of an assessment of the consequences of technology. The huge potential for innovation in Swiss start-ups and SMEs shall be given sustained support. The ongoing efforts to combat the lack of qualified workers in the ICT sector shall be continued.
Interactive, intelligent technologies will be increasingly important in the digital society. In our personal environment we encounter technologies such as intelligent homes, which make our everyday lives safer and more comfortable, or e-Health and telemedicine solutions for healthier living and ageing, as well as innovative solutions which provide us with support in increasingly diverse areas of our lives. In the context of demographic trends, such technologies will also become increasingly important for the older generation. It is therefore crucial that the development of these technologies takes into account not only the needs of the older generation, but also those of persons with disabilities. It is also crucial that all persons are empowered to use ICT services without discrimination. As part of the promotion of applied R&D the Confederation shall support the development of assistance technologies and solutions which are adapted to the individual needs of older persons and persons with disabilities.
Civil society is increasingly using ICT to participate in cultural life. Citizens' access to cultural production and cultural heritage, and the distribution and transmission of culture via digital channels, should therefore be made easier. With this in mind, digitisation of the cultural heritage in archives, libraries and museums should be further encouraged in order to improve accessibility. The Confederation shall also improve commitment to the development and production of digital culture and its dissemination.
In the digital age, the state must be able to effectively fulfil its responsibility to protect society and the economy in Switzerland. Throughout the country, these structures and processes must be established in the relevant areas of responsibility of the state and the economy, particularly in critical infrastructures, in order to protect Switzerland from cyber risks. Since cyber risks are international in nature, Switzerland must also be involved in the relevant international and European structures and processes for collaboration in the field of network and information security. This includes evaluation of innovative projects for a secure internet based on autonomous addresses and encryption techniques.
Technological developments and the pronounced trend towards mobile internet use lead to continuous new online security threats. The Confederation, in cooperation with the cantons, the private sector and academia, shall therefore commit itself to improved online protection for citizens, particularly children and young persons. The Confederation shall also investigate whether there are any legislative loopholes with regard to media protection for young persons and develop solutions to close them.
Cyberspace represents an additional dimension in the global competition for power and influence. Due to its specific features (anonymity, global network, low entry costs), cyberspace is increasingly abused to pursue political agendas. As current conflicts and tensions demonstrate, cyberspace is increasingly being used for the purpose of destabilisation. Switzerland shall counter this trend by campaigning for a cyberspace which is open, free and secure and based on clear rules and mutual trust. The regulatory basis for cyberspace should be existing international law. The principle should be that the same rights which states and persons have offline are also protected online. Switzerland shall promote a common code of conduct and campaign to build trust, particularly within the framework of the OSCE. It shall also be involved in developing the skills of other states and stakeholders in order to increase the general level of security in the light of pronounced global interdependencies.
Internet governance, i.e. the definition of rules for the use and development of the internet, has been the subject of intense political debate in many international organisations since the UN World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) 2003-2005, particularly within the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Among the key issues are the stability and availability of the internet, reducing the "digital divide" between industrialised, transition and developing countries, the equality of women and the empowerment of persons with disabilities to participate in the information society. Internet governance should be guided by the principles of the rule of law, human rights and democratic participation, and should involve all stakeholders, states and regions of the world. At the same time, innovative development of the internet should not be hindered. Switzerland has been a driving force in these areas since the beginning of the WSIS process and is committed to the adoption of the democratic values of Switzerland and the involvement of all stakeholders in internet governance.
Switzerland shall use the economic and social opportunities offered by the internet domain name system. The Confederation shall ensure that economic and social stakeholders always have guaranteed access to scarce internet resources such as addressing elements which are available in appropriate numbers and shall ensure that these can be used for the benefit of Switzerland and its favourable position in cyberspace. This applies to both the .ch country code top level domain (ccTLD) and the .swiss generic top level domain (gTLD) allocated to the Confederation.
The importance of ICT as a critical resource for sustainable development in all areas of life (economic, social, cultural, political) has greatly increased over the last few years, particularly in developing countries. Existing inequalities are being exacerbated and new inequalities created in countries with poor access infrastructures, services and content. ICT can contribute to overcoming these inequalities. Switzerland shall therefore commit itself to equal access to the internet for the entire world's population, to combating poverty using ICT and to linking the WSIS results with the UN's sustainable development goals. This also applies to developing the necessary competencies of all stakeholders in relation to ICT (capacity-building) in order to fully exploit their potential for efficient attainment of development goals.
In 2015 the EU adopted its strategy for a Digital Single Market. It comprises three policy areas: improved access to digital goods and services, optimum conditions for digital networks and services, and the digital economy as a driver of growth. As such it complements the existing measures for the creation of the Telecoms Single Market and the European virtual economic area. The objective here is to conduct a dialogue with the EU and coordinate Switzerland's activities in order to ensure that the opportunities associated with the Digital Single Market are exploited in a way which also benefits Switzerland and averts the risk of exclusion.
Implementation of the strategy
The strategy shall be implemented by the responsible departments and federal authorities together with all the relevant stakeholders from the private sector, academia and civil society. All measures by departments or federal authorities in relation to the implementation of the "Digital Switzerland" Strategy shall be summarised in an action plan. This action plan shall be updated annually.
DETEC, which is responsible for organising the dialogue on "Digital Switzerland", shall manage the coordination of the implementation measures and the further development of the strategy within the Federal Administration. This work shall be conducted within the framework of a Confederation coordination group.
The Information Society Business Office, which is located within OFCOM, shall provide the coordination group with administrative and content-related support.
Last modification 22.11.2018