Solving the puzzle of Smart Government

Nicolas Zahn September 2021

Solving The Puzzle

For the first time the Swiss Digital Initiative participated at the St. Gallen Smart Government Day. Through a keynote and a workshop, the SDI demonstrated the importance of digital trust and how the public sector could build it.

Solving the puzzle of Smart Government

While the sun rose over chilly St. Gallen, participants from the public & private sector as well as from academia and civil society met for the third St. Gallen Smart Government Summit organized by the University of St. Gallen Smart Government Lab.

The more than 150 participants came together to solve a puzzle: how can we bring together and align the public sector, academia, the economy and society to make public services smarter? How do we ensure that digital technologies really bring value instead of conducting projects simply for the sake of appearing to be innovative?

Keynotes and workshops from key participants representing the various stakeholder groups shed light on aspects ranging from how digital transformation affects democratic processes to how breaking up data silos and creating trustworthy data spaces facilitates digital health.

Harnessing analogue trust in the digital world

The Swiss Digital Initiative had the pleasure of not only participating at the event for the first time but also contributing a keynote and a workshop. As a multistakeholder organisation, SDI was able to leverage its experience to contribute to solving the puzzle at the Smart Government Day.

Our Managing Director Niniane Paeffgen addressed all participants in her keynote raising the question: if citizens generally trust the public sector, why are we still facing issues with the development and adoption of digital public services? She argues that a lack of trust is a factor and went on to outline how digital trust could be gained. Thanks to SDI’s ongoing efforts for the creation of a digital trust label, she was able to present concrete insights on the subject gained through user studies and stakeholder interactions.

After the keynote presentation, the issue of digital trust was further explored in a workshop organized and conducted by Nicolas Zahn. With the active contributions of participants from various stakeholder groups, the workshops not only increased awareness for the implicit trust and the growing mistrust in the public sector when it comes to digital services. Participants left the workshop equipped with concrete ideas on how to address mistrust in their organizations, e.g. through more transparency and participatory formats.

Moving from principles to projects

Concluding the conference, Prof. Kuno Schedler of the Smart Government Lab and moderator Ladina Spiess reiterated the importance of bringing the various stakeholder groups together and aligning on a common vision for the digital transformation of the public sector. Such a vision should be built around clear needs of the citizens and requires trustworthy infrastructure and services.

Various presentations during the conference also showed the importance of making abstract principles and concepts as tangible and practical as possible. If you’d like to learn more about how the Swiss Digital Initiative turns theoretical concepts into practice, see our project site and subscribe to our newsletter to stay up-to-date on our work.