Conceptualizing a National Data Infrastructure for Switzerland


A national data infrastructure (NDI) provides data, data-related services and guidelines for the
re-use of data to individuals and organizations. It facilitates efficient sharing of data, supports
new business models, and is thus a key enabler for the digital economy, open research, societal
collaboration and political processes. While several European countries have taken steps to set
up data infrastructures cutting across institutional silos, approaches vary, and there is no common
understanding of what a NDI exactly comprises. In Switzerland, activities are still at a
conceptual stage. In order to foster a shared vision of what a NDI is about, stakeholder
interviews were carried out with representatives of public administration, research, civil society,
and the private sector. There is broad consensus among key stakeholders that a NDI is to be
conceived as a nationwide distributed technical infrastructure allowing the sharing of data, based
on predefined rules. Our findings also suggest that the notion of a NDI should be approached
from four perspectives: a big data, a base register, an open data, and a mydata perspective. For its
implementation, effective coordination across several dimensions (ethical, legal, political,
economical, organizational, semantical, and technical) is crucial, which calls for a truly
multidisciplinary approach.

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AUTHOR: Beat Estermann

Beat Estermann ist stellvertretender Leiter des Instituts Public Sector Transformation der BFH Wirtschaft, wo er die Fachgruppe “Daten & Infrastruktur” koordiniert. Mit Fragen rund um Linked Open Data beschäftigt er sich seit mehreren Jahren im Rahmen von Forschungsprojekten und Beratungsmandaten im Auftrag von Behörden, Gedächtnis- und Kulturinstitutionen.

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