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Government as/is a platform

Project state


Project start

July 2022

Funding duration

9 months

Universities involved


Practice partner

Chancellery of the Canton of Zurich, Campax

Funding amount DIZH

CHF 75'000

The project focused on using digital platforms to help key stakeholders work together better in Zurich’s response to the Ukraine refugee crisis. This study was a first step towards creating a framework for a ‘Government as a Platform’ approach. Over 50 interviews with involved stakeholders (incl. refugees) were conducted and current digital solutions and social media were analyzed to understand the existing challenges and develop the ideas and prototypes for the possible solution.

The multidisciplinary research team has come up with the following results: 

  1. Based on the analysis of the collected data, three main root causes of the encountered challenges were formulated. Those are collaboration (difficulty to bring together capabilities of heterogenous actors while allowing for fast reaction times and flexibility and preserving safety, legitimacy, fairness), processes (the processes that exist are not end-to-end, they are not always coordinated between organizations) and finally interoperability (difficulty or impossibility to connect different systems and applications and let them communicate, primarily because of org. and legal reasons).
  2. A high-level digital platform architecture was developed, demonstrating how the ‘Government as a Platform’ concept could be adopted to deal with the encountered challenges in crises in the Canton of Zurich. This is the core of the proposed orchestration framework. To showcase how the concept can be realized, a prototype of the platform was created in the form of a marketplace for digital public services for crisis response.
  3. A tool for automated social media analysis was developed to identify refugee needs through Telegram data, thereby suggesting a novel approach to data-driven governance during refugee The tool allows for topic-modeling based on Natural Language Processing (NLP) text analysis. Telegram was chosen as a prime social media as it proved to be the most used tool in the observed crisis.
  4. A prototype of a digital ‘refugee ID’, which is the core component of the proposed orchestration framework, was developed and evaluated with refugees and cantonal public sector The prototype demonstrates how such a digital ID for refugees (particularly, based on self-sovereign identity) help ease administrative processes in public administrations and empower refugees.

This project, funded under the Rapid Action Call Dealing with Emergency Situations as Consequences of the War on Ukraine”, will continue to be funded under the Innovation Program. The new project will run from June 2023 to May 2025 and aims to implement the proposed framework as a platform for the Canton of Zurich. The list of practice partners for the follow-up project has expanded significantly. In addition to the existing partners, new collaborations have been established:

The partners are:

  • First is the research team, which includes UZH and ZHAW (new academic partner).
  • Among the practice partners new members are the Security office of the Canton of Zurich (Sicherheitsdirektion), Ergon Informatik AG and Red Cross. The Chancellery of the Canton of Zurich (Digital administration and E-Government) and Campax also remained as project partners.
  • And finally, an expert board was created and includes representatives from ZHAW, TU München, AOZ (Asylum Organization Zurich) and the private IT company i-Web.

Dr. Liudmila Zavolokina, Universität Zürich, Digital Society Initiative

Prof. Dr. Gerhard Schwabe, Universität Zürich, Department of Informatics

Dr. Mario Angst, Universität Zürich, Digital Society Initiative

Dzmitry Katsiuba, Universität Zürich, Department of Informatics

Inna Vashkite, PhD, Universität Zürich, Department of Informatics

Michalina Preisner, Universität Zürich and Universität Bern

Ivan Volkov, Universität Zürich, Department of Informatics

Zoya KatashinskayaUZH Digital Society Initiative 

Practice partners:

Staatskanzlei Kanton Zürich, Digitale Verwaltung und E-Government


Call type: 2. Rapid Action Call