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September issue: An ecosystem is essential for the establishment of smart cities

A few years ago, the MIT scientist Otto Scharmer coined the expression or rather the demand“from ego-system to eco-system”. He was referring primarily to macroeconomic aspects and postulated that in order to master today’s major challenges (climate change, poverty, financial crisis, etc.), a change in thinking was necessary: away from a focus on one’s own advantage and towards a holistic way of thinking. This demand can also be applied to the smart city context. In an earlier article, we had already postulated the importance of a multi-stakeholder approach, albeit without using this term. On the one hand, this applies within the city itself, where not only the individual departments should network and seek cooperation, but where the participation of companies, social institutions and residents is also practised. Kerry O’Connor, Chief Innovation Officer of the city of Austin in Texas, illustrated this very well in a recent lecture in Bern entitled Smart City: From Ego-System to Eco-System. But this also applies to networking and the exchange of experience between cities. Laurent Horvath, Smart City Manager of Carouge, also uses the terms “ego-system” and “eco-system” in his description of the 5 stages that a city typically goes through in its Smart City development process. From his point of view – and I can only agree with this – it only becomes really interesting when a city has internalised the ecosystem approach. There are a number of organisations and forums around the world today where cities can exchange ideas. In Europe, but also beyond, this is especially the Open and Agile Smart Cities Initiative(OASC). From Switzerland, the cities of Carouge and Geneva are also active there. However, OASC offers more than just an exchange of experience; it also promotes the dissemination of standards in order to achieve more interoperability and vendor independence. To this end, it has also defined so-called“Minimum Interoperability Mechanisms” (MIM) on three levels: APIs, (semantic) data models and marketplace integration. In Switzerland, the exchange of experience between cities mainly takes place via the informal IG Smart City, which was set up by the Federal Office of Energy, and via the Smart City Hub Switzerland association, which was founded in 2018 and to which the larger cities in German-speaking Switzerland in particular have joined. In this issue, you will find two articles on two new activities in the start-up phase that further expand the Swiss smart city ecosystem. In the first article, Dominik Grögler describes the new specialist series “Smart City Lenzburg”. In this specialist series, concrete problems in the areas of payment systems, mobility, energy & environment and data are tackled and discussed at an annual specialist conference. The first conference in this series will take place in Lenzburg in May 2020, and then in other cities in subsequent years. In the second article, Enrico Baumann, CEO of Elektron AG, talks about the Smart City Alliance. As a counterpart to the Smart City Hub, this alliance is intended in particular to promote the networking of technology and solution providers and contribute to the establishment of a Smart City marketplace. I wish you an interesting read.

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The social security data exchange ecosystem

The eAHV/IV association defines interfaces and standards for data exchange and coordinates the digitisation projects for AHV and IV. The goal is to reduce the administrative burden for all parties involved. This requires a highly available infrastructure and an ecosystem that actively connects the parties and partners involved. Today, 108 implementing agencies are active in the first pillar of social insurance. They are organised in the IV-Stellen Konferenz (IVSK), the Konferenz der Kantonalen Ausgleichskassen (KKAK) and the Schweizerische Vereinigung der Verbandsausgleichskassen (VVAK). The Central Compensation Office (CCO) is the central enforcement body of the Confederation in the area of Pillar 1 social insurance. It covers: old-age and survivors’ insurance (AHV), disability insurance (IV) and the income compensation scheme (EO). The eAHV/IV Association was founded in 2004 by the four members KKAK, VVAK, IVSK and ZAS. The association unites all funds, all associations, the ZAS and the IT of the AHV and IV implementation offices and forms the bridge between German and Latin Switzerland. As the representative of the interests (professional association) of over 100 implementing agencies, the e-AHV/IV Association is continuously modernising the data exchange (DA) in the AHV and IV. The association’s overriding goal is to relieve companies of administrative work. Together with representatives of the implementing agencies, the IT of the implementing agencies, the Federal Social Insurance Office (FSIO) and third parties, eAHV/IV defines and develops interfaces and standards for data exchange and additionally coordinates eGovernment and digitisation projects for the AHV and IV.

The network

Figure 1: Ecosystem of the eAHV/IV

Due to the statutory task performed by the implementing agencies, eAHV/IV has a large network of partners. These are positioned very differently and perform different roles. For example, eAHV/IV is the topic leader for eGovernment Switzerland on the topic of AHV/IV. The eCH

association defines the nationwide standards that are applied as far as possible in eAHV/IV.

Art. 33: Confidentiality: Persons involved in the implementation, control or supervision of the implementation of social security legislation must maintain confidentiality vis-à-vis third parties.

Close cooperation takes place specifically with the Federal Social Insurance Office (FSIO)

. As the supervisory authority, the FSIO is responsible for setting requirements/standards for the implementation of social insurance. Some of the laws and directives also deal with the topics of data exchange, information security or modernisation of supervision (in preparation, consultation). Specifically, for example, Article 33 of the ATSG (Federal Act on the General Part of Social Insurance Law).

Categories of data exchange

Data exchange in the 1st pillar of social insurance can be divided into several categories:

    • Data exchange with the insured person
    • Company / employer
    • Authorities (Confederation / Canton / Municipality)
    • Third parties (health / accident insurers / SUVA / RSA / etc.)

Figure 2: Schematic representation of data exchange

High-availability infrastructure – sedex

The exchange of data with the employer, the insured person and the municipal authorities is basically defined by the implementing agencies or the IT of the DS. The only exception is the exchange of data from the employer via third parties – for example Swissdec or easyGov. The majority of our data exchange projects use sedex. sedex stands for secure data exchange and is a service of the Federal Statistical Office (FSO). The platform is designed for secure asynchronous data exchange between organisational units. The platform is highly available (24/7). sedex was set up as part of the modernisation of the census from 2010 onwards in order to ensure the delivery of statistics from the municipal population services and the federal register of persons to the FSO. Since sensitive data is exchanged, the platform had to meet high security and traceability requirements from the very beginning. For this purpose, sedex uses modern encryption procedures as well as security certificates of the Swiss Government PKI. Since going live in mid-2008, sedex has also opened up to participants outside of register harmonisation and statistics. Today, sedex is used by over 4,850 organisational units in over 60 domains. In 2017, approximately 14.8 million messages were transmitted via sedex. sedex acts as a “postman” and can be compared to a registered letter. It is very gratifying that more than 30 million records are already exchanged electronically in the 1st pillar social insurance ecosystem.

For the future

One challenge for the future will be the electronic contact with insured persons. Although the signing of the Tallinn Declaration has defined that every citizen may communicate electronically with the authorities in Switzerland, this is still a long way off. It is important to bear in mind that in the context of social insurance, most data is personal and the majority of it is classified as requiring special protection. Due to this situation, it must be ensured that the communication from the implementing agencies to the insured persons is correct. This means that an onboarding process is necessary to ensure that the mail addresses used are indeed correct. This will be a very big challenge, especially since all citizens of Switzerland are integrated in the social security system. One approach to solving this would be, for example, the nationwide introduction of the e-citizen dossier, as described in the study “Digital Switzerland – a location for the future”.


References

https://www.bsv.admin.ch/bsv/de/home/publikationen-und-service/gesetzgebung/vernehmlassungen/aenderung-ahvg.html https://www.bfs.admin.ch/bfs/de/home/register/personenregister/sedex.html https://www.egov-schweiz.ch/media/archive2/Zukunftsstandort_digitale_Schweiz_dt_Web.pdf

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Open Data as a first step towards building a national data infrastructure

In order for government data to develop its potential benefits for the economy and society, it must be made available comprehensively and systematically. Of particular interest are basic registers and geodata for locating these entities. Together with other government data on topics such as transport, energy or healthcare, these form an intangible infrastructure whose coherence, quality and availability determine the successful development of a data economy. Just as public rail and road infrastructures have enabled the development of the industrial society, the knowledge society needs a national data infrastructure – Open Data is the first step on this path. Data is not “oil Although data is repeatedly referred to as the “petroleum” of the 21st century, this metaphor is wrong. Unlike oil, data can be used as an infrastructure resource – comparable to a lighthouse – without rivalry. The arbitrary copyability of digital data allows it to be used without preventing anyone else from sharing it. Moreover, data is an investment good that can be used to create services and end products and can be used for any number of different purposes (OECD 2014: 24). In its report “Data- driven Innovation for Growth and Well- being”, the OECD concludes that data is an important resource that can lead to new knowledge, products, processes and markets, and refers to this trend as data-based innovation (ibid. p. 4). Data can serve, on the one hand, as an infrastructural resource that can in principle be used by an unlimited number of users for an unlimited number of purposes for services and end products, and, on the other hand, as an input for analysis that allows new insights and automated decisions. Creating value with data Data-driven innovation is not a linear process; feedback loops as well as recurring phases of value creation are part of the process (see Figure 1). Today, however, the value chain of data from the first collection to the statement in statistics is still a long sequence of media discontinuities. Different requirements and systems complicate the process of creating or processing data, information and content. This not only slows down the process, but also reduces the quality of the data and unnecessarily complicates their interpretation.

data-value-cycle

Fig. 1: The Data Value Cycle (OECD 2014: 23)

The positive impact of data-based innovation is not limited to the ICT sector. The activities of financial service providers and companies in the business and professional services sectors are extremely data-intensive, so these companies will invest even more in the development of data-based innovations in the future. In addition, the OECD sees opportunities for data-based innovations in the health and education sectors as well as in public administration, which can have a major impact in a relatively short time (ibid. p. 5). Data governance In order to promote data-based innovation, strategic control and coordination of the Confederation’s data production, data publication and data use across the organisational boundaries of the administration (“data governance”) is needed. In order for data to be used as an infrastructure resource, suitable framework conditions are needed for access to the data as well as for sharing and interoperability of the data. For the regulation of data access, a spectrum opens up from closed data, which is only accessible to the data owner, to open data, to which the public has access without restrictions. Various options also open up for the further use of the data, from the prevention of any further use to free further use without any restriction (“public domain”). The most important obstacle to the free flow of data between potential users are data silos. Especially within large companies and in public administration, these hinder the free flow of data across organisational boundaries. Therefore, data governance must also regulate in particular the networking and integration of data stocks within an organisation. Linked Data is an important technical approach to meet this requirement for the networking and integration of data stocks across organisational boundaries. The Good Basic Data for Everyone programme in Denmark is a good example of the successful development of a national data infrastructure. The basic assumption is that opening up high-quality data as an infrastructure enables public authorities to better fulfil their core business across organisations. In addition, data liberalisation is seen as an innovation driver in Denmark. In the UK, a similar programme called the National Information Infrastructure has been underway since 2013. Starting point Open Data For a few years now, individual federal offices, cantons and cities in Switzerland have begun to make government data available to the public as open data for free use. This is gratifying and de facto a first step on the way to a national data infrastructure. But it is far from sufficient. In order for government data to effectively unfold its enormous potential benefits for the economy, society and culture, it must be made available comprehensively and systematically. Of particular interest are those basic data that are permanently used in all areas of life in the knowledge society: Registers on persons, companies and buildings, addresses as well as geodata for the localisation of these entities.

“Typically, Key Registers hold essential and frequently used public sector information pertaining to persons, companies, land, buildings and other ‘infrastructural’ elements critical to the proper functioning of government. The rationale for establishing a System of Key Registers is the notion that it is in fact infrastructure that is indispensable for fulfilling governmental policy ambitions and societal needs in the context of the evolving (digital) relationship between a government and its citizens and companies” (de Vries/ Pijpker 2013: 4).

Together with other public sector data, e.g. from transport, energy, health, public finances or weather, these basic data form an intangible infrastructure whose coherence, quality and availability determine the successful development of a data economy and culture. Vision National Data Infrastructure Switzerland The EU Commission sees the realisation of a digital single market as a political priority. From its perspective, infrastructure – including data infrastructure – is also a key prerequisite for exploiting the potential of the digital economy. If Switzerland wants to exploit the potential of data-based innovations for economic growth and social well-being in the coming years, then the opening up and networking of the public administration’s and the entire public sector’s data resources, which have so far been isolated in individual silos, is a mandatory prerequisite. Starting with the basic registers for companies, buildings and persons, as well as geographic base data, the national data infrastructure must encompass all data sets from areas such as health, energy, transport, education, etc. that are relevant for the functioning of Switzerland. These data sets should no longer be regarded as isolated installations, but as parts of an overarching intangible infrastructure that enables the development of data-based services and the extraction of relevant knowledge about Switzerland. This infrastructure must make access to the data via online data catalogues, download services, API, etc. as open and simple as possible and only restrict it where legal requirements such as the protection of privacy make it mandatory. In addition to the basic data and data from various economic, administrative and scientific areas, the data infrastructure also includes directories of the data holdings, reference data, terminologies and other tools for indexing the data.

dateninfrastruktur

Fig. 2: National data infrastructure

The national data infrastructure is designed to enable the creation of data-based services and applications across different application areas with minimal effort. It is a platform and engine for cross-organisational cooperation and data-based innovations.


Sources


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