In Lucerne the first Swiss ethics committee for Smart City projects

Social and legal issues evaluated by a panel of independent experts: as a pilot phase, the project of Lucern will be limited to 5 years

Lucerne: the historic center of Luzern, Switzerland
Lucerne is a city in central-northern Switzerland, in the German-speaking area, and is the capital of the canton of the same name, with about 81 inhabitants, which make it the most populous of the Swiss country in that area: it is known worldwide for the historic centre, of medieval origin, perfectly preserved

In its legislative program 2022-2025, the Municipality of Lucerne in Switzerland He has made digital transformation a priority with the “Smart City Region Lucerne” project.

With the development towards a "Smart City", also the ethical issues within the digitization are becoming increasingly evident in projects for the city.

So Lucerne decided to start a “Smart Lucerne Ethics Advisory Board”: the city's ethical, social and legal issues will be assessed by a panel of independent experts.

As a pilot phase, the project is limited to five years, where the municipality expects an annual expenditure of up to 8.000 francs.

The “City of Luzern” brochure of the “Smart City Hub Switzerland” program

Lucerne: the key visual of the five-year project "Smart-City-Region Luzern"
The key visual that characterizes the five-year project "Smart-City-Region Luzern" of Lucerne, a historic city in Switzerland

Automation and the use of digital solutions is also changing the working environment of civil servants

Digital tools, as explained by the Municipality, "they offer the opportunity to actively involve wider sections of the population in projects and to make municipal services more accessible".

For example, the population can already engage with important services online or participate digitally in consultations on platforms such as “Dialog Lucerne”. At the same time, “one wonders how access can continue to be guaranteed for people without digital capabilities”.

"Furthermore", they add from the city administration of the city on the shores of Lake Lucerne, “Cities have large amounts of sensitive data. In addition to the efficient use of this data for improvements, fundamental questions arise on how to protect the data security and privacy of the population. Automation and the use of digital solutions are also changing the working environment of civil servants”.

Science and politics agree that the inclusion of ethical and social issues is central to the digital transformation.

Lucerne is initiating the “Smart Lucerne Ethics Advisory Board”, with the aim of reflecting on these issues with a broad group of experts.

To this end, the City Council is establishing an independent expert body (Ethics Advisory Board) to advise the City Council and local government.

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Lucerne: the logo of the City of LucerneThe members of the five-year committee: professionals and technicians highly experienced in digital transformation

As members of the Ethics Committee, the City Council has requested experts who deal with the ethical, social, legal and technological aspects of digital transformation and who know the political system.

It elected the following members: Professor Peter G. Kirchschläger, full professor of theological ethics and director of the Institute of Social Ethics ISE of theUniversity of Lucerne (president); the professor Thomas Beshorner, professor of business ethics at theUniversity of St. Gallen; Natalie Klauser, co-chair of the Smart City Alliance, formerly Risk Dialog, Zurich; Jean-Daniel Strub, co-founder of ethix – Lab for Innovation Ethics in Zurich; Estefania TapiasPhD at the Federal Polytechnic of Zurichsmart city expert.

Ex officio members are Michele Bucher, municipal official of the City of Lucerne, e Urs Truttman, head of the digital sector (CDO) of the municipality of Lucerne.

Thus the light of the digital transformation shines on Switzerland

Lucerne: an opportunity for digital natives of Switzerland
Lucerne, a city on the banks of the Reuss River and Lake Lucerne, will provide great opportunities for Switzerland's digital natives

Advisory positions on ethical issues and sensitive aspects, formulating principles and recommendations

What are the functions of the Smart Lucerne ethics committee at this point? First of all, it acts at the request of the City Council and the administration and meets at least twice a year.

Takes an advisory position on ethical, social and legal issues affecting the implementation of smart city projects and digitization of the city.

It also examines sensitive aspects in terms of ethical acceptability; formulates ethical principles and, if necessary, makes recommendations on the specific design of a project.

In justified cases, it can itself deal with topics directly related to the implementation of smart city projects and urban digitization.

The members of the advisory board carry out their work on a honorary basis and are compensated as part of assembly rights according to the usual tariffs of the City of Lucerne.

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The trailer of the "Smart City LuzernNord" project launched by Lucerne (in German)

Lucerne: the historic center of Luzern, Switzerland
Lucerne is a city in central-northern Switzerland, in the German-speaking area, and is the capital of the canton of the same name, with about 81 inhabitants, which make it the most populous of the Swiss country in that area: it is known worldwide for the historic centre, of medieval origin, perfectly preserved