staatslabor is setting up the COVID-19 Civil Society Point of Contact, a liaison office between the federal administration and civil society in order to better harness the efforts being made in civil society to combat the corona crisis. At the press conference on Saturday, 11th April 2020, Alenka Bonnard, Co-Director of staatslabor, introduced the Civil Society Point of Contact to the public. Please find the translated transcription below.
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
My Co-Director Danny Bürkli and I are here today to present to you the COVID-19 Civil Society Point of Contact, a new unit which we are currently in the process of progressively setting up for the Federal Council Coronavirus Crisis Unit (KSBC).
Before I begin, I will briefly outline what the staatslabor usually does. We support Swiss public administrations, on the municipal, regional and federal level, to be more in tune with the possibilities of our times and inhabitants’ needs. We interlink initiatives, ways of working and innovative methods and evaluate whether certain Swiss public administration units may benefit from them in order to develop improved services for users. These ideas may, for example, come from the startup sector, from civil society, but equally from other public entities in Switzerland or abroad.
We, the staatslabor, work with public services and introduce them to novel ideas and practices from other sectors. It is in that precise spirit that we are currently working on setting up the COVID-19 Civil Society Point of Contact.
On Wednesday the President of the Federal Council said we could be proud of the stringency with which the vast majority of the country’s inhabitants had adhered to both the social distancing rules and the hygienic measures. It is also with great pride that we can register a wave of solidarity and a breadth of initiatives which contribute to the resolution of these current issues: from the local self-help platform to the three-day Hackathon which united 4,500 people in coming up with ideas to better overcome this crisis, allowing for well established groups as well as individuals to get involved in a creative and coordinated manner.
Among these initiatives there may be some which at some point during their development might require certain information, contacts or federal support in order to really move forward and make a difference in this struggle.
The COVID-19 Civil Society Point of Contact is intended to provide access for civil society initiatives or organisations which are working on the management of the coronavirus crisis and which have a specific request to the Federal Administration.
Let me give you an example.
In the context of a hackathon - a collaborative format that brings together different skills to develop new ideas - a team consisting of a designer, a medical student, a data specialist and a retired sociology professor develops a first prototype for an app that displays available hospital beds throughout Switzerland in real time. The aim of this app would be to help healthcare professionals to distribute patients as efficiently as possible between the different intensive care units. The team would like to know if their solution could benefit coordination efforts on a national level - and if so, how they could access the right data to further develop the app. They therefore visit the website of the COVID-19 Civil Society Point of Contact, where they can describe their initiative and let us know of their needs.
In such a case, the COVID-19 Civil Society Point of Contact could forward the request so that the team can quickly be put in contact with the right people.
Our role also involves monitoring and highlighting issues that are particularly relevant to the fight against the coronavirus. To this end, we keep abreast of current initiatives and review the results of collective efforts such as the hackathons that have taken place in recent weeks.
As you can see, the COVID-19 Civil Society Point of Contact is intended to play a supporting and mediating role, both in identifying the needs of civil society initiatives and in actively promoting promising projects.
This crisis is something fundamentally new for everyone and therefore requires new answers to new questions in a very volatile context. Thus, this Civil Society Point of Contact is also something that has never existed before and that will undoubtedly develop as it is built. Our capacities will inevitably have limits. But we are convinced that what is happening in society today is historic. We feel very privileged to be a contact between civil society and the federal administration and to be able to contribute in a tangible and committed way to this great collective effort.
Existing civil society initiatives that are working on overcoming the coronavirus crisis, which are seeking a targeted exchange with the Federal Administration or which have a specific request to the Federal Administration can contact the Federal Council Coronavirus Crisis Unit (KSBC) via the above-mentioned website.