The Deloitte Swiss Digital Government Study 2021 Drivers and Barriers to E-Government Services
This year’s Deloitte survey of digital services in Switzerland finds that demand for them has grown substantially since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Reduced face-to-face interactions and advances in digital technology have influenced customers’ expectations and their purchasing behaviour. This applies not only to online purchases of consumer goods but also to eGovernment services. Existing eGovernment services in Switzerland have been used increasingly by citizens since last year’s study and there is a great need for new digital services. As they transition to digital services, Swiss public authorities and administrations are facing not only different behaviour and new preferences among the public but also technological hurdles and transformation challenges.
Key drivers shaping the future of eGovernment services in Switzerland In our Deloitte Digital Government Survey 2021 we surveyed over 1,000 citizens in Switzerland – of which 235 were public service employees – and identified and analysed the key drivers and hurdles that will shape the future of eGovernment services in Switzerland.

These findings result in four clear calls for action which we will discuss over the coming months:

Part 1:Flexibility and time saving expected from digital services Part 2:Concerns about data privacy and cyber security Next articles will follow soon
Part 1: Flexibility and time saving expected from digital services
Citizens in Switzerland have clear needs and expectations when it comes to eGovernment services. Overall, their experience with the existing digital services offered by public authorities and administrations is better than last year and generally satisfactory. According to the latest Deloitte Digital Government Survey 2021, however, more flexibility with regard to time and location as well as greater time savings when using new digital services can drive further adoption. Improved customer orientation, better communication and more mobile services are also needed. This will increase overall satisfaction with digital services and encourage even more people to use them. The biggest users are aged between 30 and 49 years and over 60 years. Citizens aged less than 30 years are slightly less willing to use eGovernment services. Other important user aspects are self-service (68%) and convenience of digital service (68%).
High willingness to use existing digital services: The majority of citizens are ready for eGovernment services and satisfied with the digital services they have already used. Three-fifths of respondents (61%) indicate that they are willing to use the digital services of public authorities and administrations. The biggest users are those between 30 and 49 years old and those aged over 60. Respondents aged under 30 are slightly less willing to use eGovernment services - probably because the existing digital services do not appeal to their user habits. As in last year’s survey, the three best-known digital services in 2021 are in the areas of taxation, personal register and registration/de-registration of place of residence. Nevertheless, many key digital services remain unknown, especially those offered only in certain Cantons, such as electronic identification (e-ID) or online vehicle number plate redemption services, which every third respondent did not know about before taking this survey. More communication and better positioning of services is required as well as dedicated customer orientation to better addresses citizens’ needs and expectations. How willing are you to use the digital services of the public authorities and administrations in Switzerland? Flexibility and efficiency drive satisfaction and the willingness to use digital services: A large majority of respondents agree that time flexibility (75%), time saving (72%) and location flexibility (72%) are the three most important user aspects when using digital services. Other important user aspects are self-service (not limited by office hours) and the greater convenience of digital services (both 68%). It will be key for any future digital services to take these aspects of usage of eGovernment services into account. The majority of citizens want to use digital services whenever and wherever they want. This clearly points to more mobile services, such as, for example, the recently launched Swiss Travel Admin App of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). Citizens also want the digital service to be much faster and more efficient than when they go to the counter at the government office. But there are some differences in priorities between age groups. For respondents under the age of 40 years, for example, the most important user aspect is time saving. Respondents over the age of 40 favour time and location flexibility. Which user aspects of digital services of the public authorities/administration are important for you? Clear preferences when it comes to new eGovernment services: The majority of citizens surveyed would like to see new services that go beyond the already well-known and well-used eGovernment services. For example, every second respondent “would always like” to order their passports or ID cards online (51%) and obtain motorway usage vignettes electronically (49%). In addition, more than two-fifths “would always like” to pay parking fines with a contactless payment method and vote online using e-voting – and more than one third “would sometimes like” to use both services digitally. There is great potential for new eGovernment services of this kind. However, some of the citizens surveyed would not use all of these new services digitally because of their concerns about data privacy protection and cybersecurity. These concerns need to be addressed to increase adoption. We will dive deeper into this topic in a separate article which will be released soon. What is your view on following new digital services offered by public authorities/the public administration?
Part 2: Concerns about data privacy and cyber security
Most Swiss citizens (61 %) are willing to use e-government services as they hope to increase flexibility and ease of bureaucratic interactions. Yet, many Swiss citizens continue to have reservations, with 26 per cent being neutral towards the use of e-government services, 9 per cent "rather not willing" and 4 per cent "not at all willing" to use these services. This year's Deloitte survey of digital services in Switzerland finds that the citizens who are not in favor of new digital services from the government have, in many cases, concerns about data protection and cyber security. There are, of course, legitimate concerns around the safety of interacting and exchanging sensitive information in a digital way. For example - are digital services from the government trustworthy and resilient enough against data theft? Part of the Swiss population seems to doubt this. Our survey findings revealed that the lack of data security and concerns about cyber security are significant obstacles that might lead to a hesitant use of e-government services by Swiss citizens. We tried to understand if this is only a question of mindset, or if there are deeper reasons behind the hesitancy. 28% of respondents who would not use this service (or only sometimes) were concerned about data protection and 34% expressed concerns due to a lack of data security Further efforts to enhance technical systems and tools as well as training staff and strengthening agile public institutions is key Our expert comments the concerns about data protection and cyber security that one third of Swiss citizens are showing Read more
For the second time in ten months, serious security vulnerabilities were detected in a government database. In March 2021, the electronic vaccination booklet Meineimpfungen.ch was affected, followed by the organ donor registers of the Swisstransplant foundation. By exploiting a security vulnerability in the Swisstransplant website, an attacker was able to view sensitive files of the application server such as log files with personal data of people willing to register. Barely one week after the discovery of such a serious security vulnerability, the national organ donor register was already back online. By deciding to reopen the donations register without making any changes, Swisstransplant overrode the concerns of the Federal Data Protection Commissioner (Edöb). Adrian Lobsiger, Head of Office for the Federal Data Protection Commissioner, confirmed that he pointed out to Swisstransplant, before the register was relaunched, that the information recorded in the register is "considered to be particularly sensitive personal data". (Source) The reasons for the reluctance to use e-government services vary from person to person - ranging from personal negative experiences to reports of real attacks on e-government services or one's own technology mindset. Together with general mistrust and a high individual need for security, these are all reasons why people are reluctant to use e-government services. The concern is, on some levels, understandable. Fraudulent e-mails purporting to come from the customs administration or Swiss Post or cyberattacks on hospitals and media houses show that there is no such thing as one hundred percent security on the internet, although Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter assures in an interview with the NZZ: "The state has a supporting and important role. It is and remains the master of the data. It regulates. It verifies. It recognizes. And it supervises." (Source) Swiss citizens have reservations about digital services for taxes and signatures These incidents clearly impact public opinion on service safety. The more sensitive the data that must be transmitted, the stronger the reservations. This is especially true for financial and medical data. Similar to last year's study, there are data protection concerns especially around digital services for taxes, digital signature, electronic information exchange, passport/ID and e-voting. Cyber security concerns exist for practically all services. Regarding contactless payment options for parking fines - 28% of respondents who would not use this service (or only sometimes) were concerned about data protection and 34% expressed concerns due to a lack of data security. For the electronic purchase of the motorway vignette, the ratio was also 28% to 34%. Given the possibility to file a report digitally with the police - 36% of respondents who would not really use this service have reservations regarding data protection and 35% distrust this offer due to the lack of data security. About two thirds of respondents who disapprove of an online service for registering as unemployed expressed concerns about data protection (33%) and data security (34%). These worries are even bigger amongst respondents who disapprove of e-voting (38% for data protection and 45% for data security reasons) and online ordering of passport and ID documents (38% data protection, 48% data security). Key elements to address citizens' fears and concerns about privacy and security The reasons for hesitancy regarding use of digital services are varied and complex. Challenges exist on the inside of public services (e.g. technical equipment) and within society and their doubts about the security of the state’s data systems. Secure systems are essential, as well as Swiss citizens feeling assured that the security of data is safeguarded – through secure hardware and software. Further efforts to enhance technical systems and tools as well as training staff and strengthening agile public institutions is key. The data shows: E-government services are very important to Swiss citizens. They trust government institutions far more than they trust private providers, to keep their data confidential. This trust creates the foundation for reputable institutions to address citizens' fears and concerns about privacy and security by demonstrating that they offer robust and secure solutions. Why are you not in favour of these digital services provided by authorities/public administration?
Interview with Florian Widmer, Partner, Cyber Risk Services Our expert comments the concerns about data protection and cyber security that one third of Swiss citizens are showing According to our latest Digital Government Survey, around one third of Swiss citizens are not in favour of new digital government services due to their concerns about data protection and cyber security. How do you interpret these reservations? Concerns about data protection and cyber security are typically an indication of more than whether eGovernment services are perceived as secure. It rather stems from a lack of trust that some citizens have in the government and its services overall, and not just related to cyber security and data protection. Could you elaborate on what you mean by a lack of trust? Many citizens have also experienced that the exchange of data and information with the government can often be tedious. Here, it would help to emphasise the advantages to the user which include saving time, 24-hour accessibility and location independence all whilst maintaining high levels of security and complying with privacy regulations. These benefits can be communicated with government campaigns, but more importantly, eGovernment services need to be re-designed to become more appealing to citizens. How can the government overcome these concerns, change opinions, and encourage greater use? The government must earn a solid level of trust. Based on this, I would recommend the following: Demonstrate that security and privacy are priorities by sharing information about underlying security measures and obtaining independent assurance regarding the effectiveness of these measures. Establish transparency and trust by openly communicating about why the data is needed and what it will be used for. This should be made explicitly clear for both the benefit of the individual and in the overall interest of fellow citizens. Give the user control over the data: Government measures should respect informational autonomy and opting digital solutions should be voluntary.
Methodology
Find out more about the methodology we used for the Deloitte Digital Government Survey 2021
A Switzerland-wide survey To analyse and understand the behaviour and preferences of Swiss citizens in relation to eGovernment services, Deloitte conducted a survey for the second time in September 2021 of over 1,000 participants between the ages of 18 and 81 from both urban and rural areas and in the German, French and Italian speaking parts of the country. 235 of the participants were public service employees. This made it possible to sample views within the public authorities and administrations on their technological hurdles and transformation challenges, as well as ascertaining other citizens’ expectations of eGovernment services. Participants age
Place of residence
Place of work
Trust in digital services, and the willingness to use or provide them The questions addressed to the general public focused on the overall confidence and trust of citizens in the current and future ability of public authorities and administrations to offer digital services. The questions covered citizens’ awareness or and need and motivation to use digital services as well as how these services should be delivered and what the hurdles to broader adoption are. The questions for public service employees focused on their willingness to offer digital services as well as challenges resulting from the coronavirus pandemic and the need for increased centralisation and Switzerland-wide standardisation of eGovernment services.
Contacts and authors

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