August 25, 2022
As covered in the press (Handelsblatt, AGConnect, Heise), we have been working for some time on building a strong Nextcloud Office for use in the public sector. This will help governments regain their independence from a small number of tech giants and allow them to confidently roll out digitization efforts.
As most of our readers are likely aware, there has been a wave of recent decisions and Data Protection Office announcements from government agencies all over Europe about the legal challenges of hosting confidential data on especially US cloud services. Most recently the Procurement Chamber of the German state Baden-Württemberg decided US cloud services are not GDPR compliant, but they have been preceded by Dutch, Swedish and many other governments and data protection offices coming to that same conclusion.
This creates a significant need in federal and local government offices working with personal data from citizens for an independent, on-premises, trustworthy collaboration platform. An office solution that is GDPR compliant, open source, standards-compliant, easy to use, performant and decentralized is key for this.
To achieve this, several European Government agencies joined with Nextcloud to deliver this solution and today we announce the formation of an Advisory board with members of the Swedish, German, Swiss and other European federal and local governments. The board aims to further the development of Nextcloud Office, already widely deployed in the Government sector, opening direct communication between the development team and users. The board is looking for new members to participate in the furtherance of European Digital Sovereignty.
Hundreds of municipal, state, federal and EU government organizations in Europe use Nextcloud to collaborate in a secure and compliant manner and deployments are accelerating. Nextcloud Office was launched in December 2021 in collaboration with the online office experts from Collabora. It introduced advanced compatibility with proprietary document formats and alongside the establishment of the Advisory Board, the Nextcloud Office team releases an update with a familiar tabbed menu interface.
To get wider feedback on how Office is used by people, the Nextcloud Usability team is launching a usability survey to investigate usage patterns in the public sector and establish key priorities for development. Users are encouraged to participate in the survey here.
Microsoft Office compatibility with documents is a key concern for our users. We work to made sure that Nextcloud Office has better compatibility with MS Office document formats than the various Microsoft products themselves do between platforms and over the years. Customers will have fewer cases where Nextcloud Office can not display elements of documents than they would encounter on MS 365, especially with legacy documents and file formats.
Nextcloud encourages users to participate in the usability study while we continue to look for public sector users of Nextcloud to participate in our Advisory Board.