SI In Review: A Report

The Swiss Informatics Society (SI) faced several challenges in the past year. Some of them were mastered very successfully; while others remain a burden to the future. All though the Covid-19 crisis and the certification business provided SI with real challenges, there was significant growth in other areas of operation with in SI. Details of both are provided in detail in the below text, offering an overview of SI activities between 2019 and 2020.

Covid-19 Health Crisis

In regard to the COVID crisis, we managed to guarantee business continuity: From the first week of the lock down on we held board and other meetings online. The presidents’ conference took place online too. In addition, we created a special edition of the SI Digital Magazine (see below) which addressed the above issues in detail. In order to address the great uncertainty around the SwissCovidApp, we organized a tutorial for members of the SI board, the SI Advisory Board, and for the Special Interest Group “Medien und Informatik”. As a follow up of the discussions, we published an evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the SwissCovidApp that included a comparative recommendation for its use, as well as offering recommendations for its further development.

New Growth

The Ethics Commission: At the GA of 2019 a new code of ethics was decided on, which is binding for all members of SI. As announced at the GA, an SI Ethics Commission has been established, whose members will be confirmed by the GA 2020.

New Special Interest Groups: There are three key questions that have arisen from the present digital transformation of the economy: How can our society benefit from the chances and avoid the dangers and risks of digital transformation? How can we bring computer science and business informatics closer together and thus ensure that digital transformation can fully benefit from the power of technology? And: How can we improve digital skills amongst non-computer specialists?

In the last two years, three important new Special Interest Groups (SIGs) were founded that are able to address these topics: “Gesellschaft und Informatik”, “Business Informatics” (with an engineering focus), and “Digital Competency”. The first two groups are based on previous activities, but it is great to have them now as SIGs with a clear focus.

Furthermore, it is good news that SGAICO has decided to stay within SI, because their topic “AI and Cognition Technology” is one of the key topics for digital transformation and it is of great importance that this area is represented within SI. In addition, the founding of several new SIGs is in preparation, e.g. related to Distributed Systems.

 Social Enterprises: SI is involved with two social enterprises, both of which are in the certification business. Despite changes in the management in the ECDL business, we mastered the recent crisis quite well and are expecting increased profits, which will be used to fund important SI projects. However, the “SI Professional Certificate” business has not yet archived success yet.

 

Key Activities for our Members

Clearly, SI achieves most of its impact through its SIGs. They are the core assets of SI and apart from providing administrative and financial services to SIGs, SI has created two new information platforms for its members: The Swiss Digital Summit (SDS) and and the SI Digital Magazine (SIDM).

Swiss Digital Summit: Based on the experiences during the SDS 2018, the concept for the SDS was further developed, which resulted in the creation of a one-day event in which all factions of SI are integrated. Originally planned for May 2020, a limited version of it will now take place on October 8, 2020.

Even in its restricted version, the event is designed in a way to exhibit the various high potential “components of SI” showing their specific profiles, capabilities, and public value and inviting to participate in the corresponding activities. Each of the resulting components of the event are conceived to address the specific interest of one or more groups within SI.

Other parts of the new event concept will be realized in a special event in mid-2021. That special event will be geared to revitalize SI’s membership base with a new generation of upcoming IT professionals. It will be organized as an IT PosterSlam competition that primarily targets students at the Bachelor, the Master, and the PHD level – with a special category for high school students. The project has been granted financial support from SATW and will be carried out in partnership with the ETH Zurich Learning Center.

SI Digital Magazine: The SI Digital Magazine (SIDM) is an electronic publication by SI, which is designed as a dynamic publication platform for groups and members of SI, including SI regional sections, associated Societies, and SIGs. New articles from a broad spectrum of IT areas and from a wide and diverse authorship are published on a regular basis. Selected content from the SIDM is distributed to all members as a quarterly newsletter. The SIDM has proven to be a cost-efficient communication channel for SI with a good take-up. It provides a stage for the commitment of SI members to creating pubic value and it strongly benefits from the high engagement of these members.

 

In Conclusion

Although we have experienced challenging times, SI was able to address several of the core challenges successfully. We designed several new information platforms, which have proven to be of great value to our members; we witnessed the birth of three important SIGs that address pertinent topics of today; we were able to win back on of the most important SIGs; and we established business continuity during the health crisis. By doing so, it is thus demonstrated that SI does not only have a remarkable history, but it is still a very active society that is rooted in past accomplishments, but which is very much orientated towards tomorrow in its actions today. Nevertheless, some unsolved problems remain and we have to start to thinking now about even the day after tomorrow.

 

 

 

Reinhard Riedl
About Reinhard Riedl 56 Articles
Reinhard Riedl, MEng PhD, is a mathematician who focuses on transdisciplinary research combining computer science, business administration, law, political science, economics, psychology, sociology, and ethnology.

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