The institutions of the ETH Domain perform numerous national tasks on behalf of the Swiss Confederation.

In parallel with its core tasks, the ETH Domain also performs numerous national tasks. Many of these are either based on requirements set by legislation, or they are activities which the institutions have come to perform throughout the years. Other federal tasks have been integrated into the ETH Domain in the past and these contribute to the fulfilment of international obligations. Some of these tasks are mentioned here by way of example.

The “Atlas of Switzerland” of ETH Zurich has been available online since June 2016. The online version contains a number of cartographical views which are three-dimensional. It was a challenge to implement intuitive visualisations which work for the users both in 2D and in 3D. The “Atlas of Switzerland – online” was developed at the Institute of Cartography and Geoinformation of ETH Zurich, in close collaboration with the Federal Offices of Topography, Statistics and Environment, as well as with around 70 other institutions.

The Swiss Plasma Center (SPC) at the EPFL is an important national and international hub in the development of controlled fusion into a new source of energy.

In November 1996, the PSI notched up a world first when a cancer patient was treated with a new radiation technique; the spotscanning technique for proton radiation, in the Center for Proton Therapy. In this technique, a thin proton beam scans tumours inside the body precisely, destroying the tumour cells while protecting the surrounding tissue at the same time. Back then, the methodology developed by PSI researchers represented a breakthrough in radiation therapy and quickly became a successful product. Nowadays, spot-scanning is the standard technique used worldwide in proton therapy. Over the past 20 years, over 1200 cancer patients have been treated routinely and very successfully with it at the Center for Proton Therapy of the PSI.

One of the activities that the WSL has performed for many years became a national task with the amendment to the Forest Ordinance on 1 January 2017: Forest reserve research, or more precisely the long-term development processes in natural forest reserves, has now become a statutory obligation which will be delivered jointly by the WSL and the FOEN. The Federal Government wishes to use it to review its reserve policy. It has supported the creation of natural forest reserves since 1991 within the scope of its strategy on “Forest biodiversity”. Natural forest reserves are and also remain unique outdoor laboratories in which questions about forest development and biodiversity can be explored, for instance.

Together with the Federal Office for the Environment, Empa oversees the National Air Pollution Monitoring Network. The measurements taken at 16 sites all across Switzerland will serve to aid in the early detection of problematic air pollutants and for the evaluation of the effectiveness of Swiss environmental policy.

On behalf of the Department of Radiation Protection at the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), Eawag uses its gamma-ray laboratory to continuously monitor radioactivity in aquatic systems. Together with the WSL and the FOEN, it is involved in the National River Monitoring and Survey Programme (NADUF). NADUF tracks the concentrations of substances occurring in selected Swiss watercourses.