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 is deputy head of the Institute Public Sector Transformation at BFH Wirtschaft, where he coordinates the specialist group "Data & Infrastructure". He has been dealing with Linked Open Data issues for several years in the context of research projects and consulting mandates on behalf of public authorities, memory and cultural institutions.

AUTHOR: Marianne Fraefel

Lecturer and Research Associate, Bern University of Applied Sciences, Economics

AUTHOR: Alessia Neuroni

Alessia Neuroni is head of the Institute Public Sector Transformation at BFH Wirtschaft. She is responsible for Big and Open Data at the BFH Center Digital Society. Her thematic focus is on data governance and leadership of cross-agency innovation projects.

AUTHOR: Jürgen Vogel

Lecturer Computer Science, Bern University of Applied Sciences TI

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