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The Tell Report was conducted by digitalswitzerland over a 3 month period in the runup to DigitalTag event in September 2019

Switzerland’s Digital Pulse: we examine digitalswitzerland’s ‘Tell report’

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We take a look at the findings in the Tell Report by digitalswitzerland

How we bring about a more harmonious relationship between technology and the people who use that technology is the question of the modern age. There is often a disparity between the rate of digital growth and how humans, as a species, adapt to and manage a technological landscape that can often feel out of our control. Anecdotally, we have all had conversations about the fast rate of digital development: from our concerns over the lack of personal data regulation to, on the flip side, the excitement over the innovations being made in the quest for new, greener energy. But perhaps the time has come for us to fully-examine these concerns and hopes.

And so, Digitaltag (Swiss Digital Day), run by digitalswitzerland, has stepped up to the fore, with the third event of its kind. For those unfamiliar with this particular day, it’s a chance for the Swiss population to actively express any concerns they have about the role of technology and its pace of change, as well as to discuss their hopes and ambitions for the digital future. Over 2000 people, at eighteen different locations, were surveyed between June and November 2019 and audio recordings of these discussions held during Digitaltag were evaluated, as well as two online studies (over 6,000 people surveyed by Oliver Wyman and sotomo). The findings were published in the ‘Tell Report.’

Nicolas Bürer, Managing Director of digitalswitzerland, was keen to emphasise the collaborative nature of the project. He stated that ““The aim of the ‘tell’ events is to get to the heart of what is really important for each individual and for the future of the community. From the very beginning, it was clear that the valuable messages from these discussion groups would be recorded and evaluated accordingly. In addition, the ‘tell’-report is intended to reward the commitment of society.”

Indeed, in a world where technology affects virtually every corner of our lives, it’s increasingly important to maintain connections and communities and to have conversations about how technology is impacting us both personally and in our work and business lives.

How we bring about a more harmonious relationship between technology and the people who use that technology is the question of the modern age. There is often a disparity between the rate of digital growth and how humans, as a species, adapt to and manage a technological landscape that can often feel out of our control. Anecdotally, we have all had conversations about the fast rate of digital development: from our concerns over the lack of personal data regulation to, on the flip side, the excitement over the innovations being made in the quest for new, greener energy. But perhaps the time has come for us to fully-examine these concerns and hopes.
Nicolas Bürer (second from left) is the managing director of digitalswitzerland. He is joined here by Daniel Bermejo, Jean-Pierre Vuileumier and Matthias Zwingli. Photo by Elaine Pringle-Schwitter

The Findings of the Tell Report.

The overall findings of the Tell Report showed that the Swiss are eager to discuss technology and the changing digital world. They are concerned about the pace of change and how their data is being used but are also excited by the prospects of technology in terms of its benefits to education, medical care and the possible positive impact it might have on the environment. The creators of Digital Day focused the areas of interest to nine different topics: work 4.0, education, e-Democracy, Health, Lifestyle, Media & News, My Data, Mobility and Smart City.

According to the report, around half of the Swiss population believe that some, if not all, of their job will be lost due to further technological advancements. However, only a minority of people (around 20%) feel that they won’t be able to keep pace with digitalisation, with most Swiss citizens believing that technology will make their working lives simpler.

In terms of education, there is agreement among the population that digitalisation, specifically the internet, has improved education through the democratisation of knowledge. Education is no longer based on being able to attend a physical place of learning. There were some slightly more sceptical opinions voiced and a lot of people agreed that technology shouldn’t replace schools but that schools and educational systems need to adapt.

Respondents were asked to consider sustainability and technological advancements and their effect on lifestyle, with most people focusing on issues of CO2 usage and its impact on the environment. When it came to mobility and how transportation has been affected by new technologies, there was a lot of scepticism about the advancements in these fields, with only 30% believing that driverless cars will be established by 2030. Alongside this, respondents discussed the possibility of smart cities and how this use of the ‘internet of things’ will affect our lives, with people hoping that an increase in its development and usage will improve public services.

The media was a fairly major area of discussion, with a majority (around 75% of participants) feeling that this was the area that had been affected the most by technological change, with the idea of ‘fake news’ being a prevalent theme. When it came to ‘e-Democracy,’ digitalisation has brought benefits to the spread of knowledge and information but many people called for increased regulation and expressed a fear of data manipulation. Indeed, respondents frequently raised concerns about how their data was being used and what, if any, control they had over it.

Overall, the future and the technological advancements that come with it, has received a mixed reception from Swiss citizens. With 36% indicating that they are looking forward to it and 35% indicating that they are fearful of it, there is still much debate to be had. As Diana Engetschwiler, overall project manager for the Digital Day said, “Raising public awareness of digital change forms the basis of the Digital Day. But with ‘tell’ we want to go one step further and encourage the public to get directly involved in the change process. We were pleased with the high level of participation in the events, which are designed precisely for this purpose.”

How we bring about a more harmonious relationship between technology and the people who use that technology is the question of the modern age. There is often a disparity between the rate of digital growth and how humans, as a species, adapt to and manage a technological landscape that can often feel out of our control. Anecdotally, we have all had conversations about the fast rate of digital development: from our concerns over the lack of personal data regulation to, on the flip side, the excitement over the innovations being made in the quest for new, greener energy. But perhaps the time has come for us to fully-examine these concerns and hopes.
Digitaltag 2019 was held in over 18 locations throughout Switzerland, its aim is to develop ideas and solutions for the sustainable development of a digital Switzerland. Photo credit: Digitaltag/digitalswitzerland

How does this Affect Business?

Businesses and entrepreneurs are innovating new technologies every day and there should be a continual conversation about how to accelerate and support that change. This is especially important for startups and investors to keep in mind, particularly those involved with deep tech. Connections are increasingly important for businesses, so that they can learn and grow and discover.

Digital Switzerland and Startup INVEST will be bringing investors and startups together at their deep tech event Startup DAYs on 10th-11th June (Bern, Switzerland). From talks by investors offering advice to startups, to workshops on stage performance techniques, and applying for EU research grants, it is sure to be two days of informative debate, discovery, learning and connection. There are also chances for 1:1 meetings with investors or ‘speed-dating’ for startups, workshops on pitching and to see side events such as the Art and Tech Gallery.   The full agenda can be found here. 

Sovereign Magazine & Startup DAYs

How we bring about a more harmonious relationship between technology and the people who use that technology is the question of the modern age. There is often a disparity between the rate of digital growth and how humans, as a species, adapt to and manage a technological landscape that can often feel out of our control. Anecdotally, we have all had conversations about the fast rate of digital development: from our concerns over the lack of personal data regulation to, on the flip side, the excitement over the innovations being made in the quest for new, greener energy. But perhaps the time has come for us to fully-examine these concerns and hopes.
The special edition cover will feature Jean-Pierre Vuileumier, Nicolas Bürer, Daniel Bermejo and Matthias Zwingli

To celebrate Startup DAYs, Sovereign has teamed up with Startup Invest and Digital Switzerland to create a special edition magazine dedicated to showcasing the Swiss startup ecosystem along with profiles of the founders, organisations, members and participants who make the event possible.

Get involved!

To find out more and ways you can be involved in this edition, visit the SUD2020 page.

Alexis Boddy is a London-based writer, specialising in technology and business. She has also written for the stage and her fiction has been published around the world.

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