Author: Marcel Kurz

Efficient digital public administration: Regulated electronic seals in the canton of Lucerne

The canton of central Switzerland is introducing regulated electronic seals with the help of CMI, intarsys, and Swisscom Trust Services and thus eliminates one of the last media disruptions in government administration

The Canton of Lucerne has been using a GEVER solution (GEschäftsVERwaltung) from CMI to digitize its file management. The system allows the control of administration efficiently in a workflow. However, it has reached its limits where documents must be officially certified. Due to the Corona pandemic and personnel restrictions in offices, the canton of Lucerne wanted to eliminate this media disruption and enable employees to work more independently of location.

Remote, digital and secure

The challenge was to create digital documents with the same legal security as analog documents. In addition, the digitization of public administration must also comply with strict data protection regulations. For this reason, the canton cannot to hand sensitive documents over to external service providers to carry out the digital sealing process. Instead, they should remain entirely in the cantonal data center until they are digitally delivered to the relevant citizens, companies, or institutions.

"The need for electronic seals and signatures comes from the digitalization efforts of the Canton of Lucerne. Wherever possible, we try to prevent or reduce media disruptions. Today, it often still looks like this: A document is created electronically but must be printed out and signed or stamped before it can be sent by post. By using the electronic seal, we can prevent this media disruption and the digital right remains right to the end of the process", says Dario Schaller, Product Manager of E-Government Services, who is responsible for the project at the Canton of Lucerne.

Simple integration via interfaces

A requirement for the solution to be implemented was that employees could trigger electronic seals directly from the applications they are familiar with. Therefore, the canton worked closely with its software partner CMI. After an unsuccessful public tender and a following market analysis, the canton selected the German company intarsys, which can integrate signature services into various web and specialist.

Intarsys also works with Swisscom Trust Services and can therefore cover the jurisdictions of Switzerland with ZertES. As an accredited certification service provider, Swisscom Trust Services provides the regulated certificates and qualified electronic time stamps necessary to ensure the legal security of the joint solution. In addition, the trust service does not need direct access to the documents but only works with calculated hash values of the documents. Although a hash is uniquely assigned to a record, it does not show any conclusions about its content. Furthermore, the hash value would change if subsequent changes were made to a sealed document, rendering the seal invalid. As a result, users of the solution can detect manipulation quickly and reliably.

The dual integration of Swisscom Trust Services in intarsys and intarsys in CMI went smoothly: "It worked wonderfully. Starting with the Cloud Suite Gears solution from intarsys, on the one hand, there is an integration to Swisscom Trust Services. That was stress-free, and intarsys provided us with excellent support. Then there was the second integration of CMI with Cloud Suite Gears, which also worked without any problems. Overall, the integration of all components went smoothly", says Schaller. The solution has been in productive use since the fall of 2021.

Employees and citizen benefit

As far as the introduction of regulated electronic seals is concerned, Lucerne's canton is pioneering. The corresponding legislation is still new, and there are also still few providers on the market who can implement a corresponding solution. Against this background, the cooperation with CMI, intarsys, and Swisscom Trust Services was a complete success.

So far, the number of electronically sealed documents is still manageable but is expected to increase continuously. In the fall of 2022, the canton is also planning to introduce digital signatures. "These new technological possibilities are important for optimizing our internal processes and are increasingly in demand from citizens. We can now respond to the desire for more digital communication by being able to seal or sign responses, decisions, or reports electronically and then deliver them electronically", Schaller concludes.

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