CH ++, Marcel Salathé’s initiative to shake up Switzerland

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Enough is enough. Appalled by Switzerland’s shortcomings in the digital field, Marcel Salathé takes action. The epidemiologist is launching a new organization on Monday, CH ++, intended to act on three fronts: advancing digital skills policy, taking action with the administration and helping citizens forge a digital future. The EPFL professor, who is leaving the Swiss National COVID-19 Science Task Force, is not going alone. At the start of CH ++, he was accompanied by a dozen personalities, including Serge Bignens (head of the I4MI Institute for Medical Informatics at the Bernese University of Applied Sciences), Olga Baranova (Director of the “Civil Marriage for All and All” campaign. all ”), Esther de Boer (director of GetDiversity) and Hannes Gassert (co-founder of Opendata.ch).

It is the exposure, by the pandemic, of the deficiencies of Switzerland, which pushed Marcel Salathé to act. “Medical data exchanged by fax, codes for the SwissCovid application sent with an immense delay, computer systems deficient for vaccination … In a few weeks, we have seen how much the country is behind in digitization”, notes the epidemiologist.

Skill deficit

And the problem is deep, notes Olga Baranova: “I see it at the political level: there is an immense lack of competence at the level of decision-makers, whether at the federal, cantonal or municipal level. When you talk about digital, you pass for the “geek” of service. However, digitization is essential to improve collective well-being and this of course goes beyond the framework of the pandemic. ” Marcel Salathé continues: “What we want is to create a new bridge between the scientific and technological world, and the political world and the citizens”.

Based on this observation, Marcel Salathé and his team therefore created the CH ++ association. Why design a new structure, when there are already so many to promote digital? “We are fortunate to be able to act quickly and independently, which allows us to ask the difficult questions,” replies the epidemiologist. CH ++ calls on all goodwill to join it. By the way, why not have joined the DigitalSwitzerland association? “This organization is aimed at large companies and institutions. CH ++ is a citizens’ initiative open to everyone, ”says Marcel Salathé.

Read also: Switzerland believed itself to be the digital world champion. In reality, it is zero

“Digital evaluation”

And concretely, what will be its first actions? “The first thing we will do is create a sort of digital-rating of federal parliamentarians, a bit on the existing eco-rating world,” Olga Baranova suggests. The goal will be to examine the digital skills of elected officials. And that could be very useful during the next federal election … ”.

The aim is for this awareness to then have positive consequences for the administration, particularly the federal government, so that it increases its skills in digital matters. “Whether it is in terms of the hiring criteria for civil servants or in the continuous training offered to them, digital skills must play a more important role than what is the case today,” continues Olga Baranova. .

“Building bridges”

CH ++ also wants to address citizens. Already at the origin of the EPFL extension school, Marcel Salathé is now thinking bigger: “We must allow all citizens to constantly increase their digital skills to face the very rapid transformation of the world of work. “.

The epidemiologist warns: the aim of the association is not to promote a frenzied digitization of all processes and of society as a whole: “Our objective is above all to create the decision-making bases necessary for taking decisions. informed democratic decisions. We are not in a normative process. ” We saw it with the SwissCovid app, we also see it with vaccination, no subject is apolitical. “CH ++ is an association which is open to everyone, regardless of political affiliation, agrees with Olga Baranova. And the most important thing will already be to create bridges between scientists and society. ”

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