Online Hackathon Case Study

The NextGov Hackathon - How our project helped protecting Europe's Digital Sovereignty with Big-Tech solutions

By Chatty Garrate.

Regarding data security and the Cloud, it’s getting harder and harder to trust big tech solutions. Every alternative we can use to secure our data is welcome, significantly if we can develop novel ways to enhance our digitized life.

The Nextgov Hackathon works with everyone as we find solutions for improving digital sovereignty. If you’re unsure what all the fuss is about, here’s everything you need to know about the event, from its values to its goals and overall path to freedom.

What Is The NextGov Hackathon?

The NextGov Hackathon was a multi-day event in which dozens of developers, designers, and thinkers haphazardly come together within the NextCloud service to form teams and collaboratively find solutions for improving digital sovereignty. 

The hackathon is sponsored by the European Commission’s Open Source Programme Office, looking to enhance Nextcloud with more developed features. Those issues range from helping the government be more effective, whether that’s through identity management, social PR, security, creating digital infrastructure, or developing novel ways to handle citizen data.

So, what’s NextCloud?

NextCloud is a client-server cloud platform that combines hundreds of apps within a single hub. Its core functionality varies across apps, utilizing core functions like sharing and file access. These apps also vary, which can be anything from playing music to tracking your health.

Its value comes from helping schools, government offices, and universities, providing a way to stop depending on big tech for crucial solutions. This allows them to privatize data and ensure that no information stays on the back end.

What Is The NextCloud

What’s The Goal Of the NextGov Hackathon?

The Nextgov Hackathon’s goal was to create an open dialogue focused on solutions for digital sovereignty. The event’s goal is to encourage open-source thinking in coding circles, which can help prevent governments from depending on the big tech solutions they rely on.

The event also looks to crowdsource the skills of several participants to find novel ways to improve and upgrade the NextCloud hub. They had three goals they sought to solve with the community of participants.

First, the team was looking for fresh ideas for additional features and improvements for the Nextgov Hub. Much like any system, crowdsourced ideas from the community allow new ideas and talents beyond the scope of the existing dev team.

Having teams find novel solutions through the support of the community is fantastic. In addition, it offers more lateral answers that established team members may have difficulties developing.

Second, NextCloud looks to attract public administrations and government entities to use its cloud solution. Powered by the features and solutions that the community develops, NextCloud should grow and receive the exposure it needs. The more Nextcloud gets visibility, the faster it builds on the data privacy values it supports.

Lastly, NextCloud wanted to bring together like-minded individuals from around the world in the name of coding and software development. Every NextCloud hackathon tries its best to reach out to communities around the world, creating a more connected league of developers.

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What Did The Hackathon Do?

The hackathon had five main categories that participants could tackle. For the first phase of the event, participants needed to develop new features for Nextgov’s Deck, a project management system that worked similarly to Trello. The Nextgov team wanted participants to introduce dependencies with Gantt chart integrations and Trello import.  

The second phase consisted of teams having a set amount of time to develop improvements to Nextcloud Talk, the team’s audio/video chat app that combines several features from MS Teams, Slack, and Zoom.

Nextcloud asked participants to add message reactions, much like how Signal or Telegram uses in their app. They’re also proposing the addition of reactions to video calls, which should work beautifully with the right animations.

The third phase targeted Nextcloud Calendar, where participants needed to complete several tasks. Nextcloud asked participants to add one-on-one appointments to the calendar, which could display the schedule for an entire department. Nextcloud also wanted teams to add the ability to schedule appointments between multiple users.

Nextcloud Photos was also on the list for improvements, so teams were asked to improve photo tagging, export, and backup. The most frequently requested feature was the ability to add photo tags, which would simplify the process of finding photos in massive archives. 

Nextcloud also wanted teams to figure out a way to create shared albums with Nextcloud. This would allow multiple parties to collaborate on albums, viewing edits in real-time. Teams also wanted to improve Nextcloud’s photo backup function by adding date filters, allowing users to restore a specific day or time. 

The last phase was aimed at all the participants who hadn’t found any projects they were interested in. The Nextgov Hackathon allowed participants to suggest their own features, then work with other participants to build their own solutions.


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What’s In Store For NextCloud

NextCloud remains dedicated to drawing in more governments and organizations to its platform. By giving back power to the people, NextCloud hopes to empower citizens worldwide.

The NextCloud Hackathon impressed the European Commission with the community’s solutions. The team is hoping to attract more governments and universities to its platform, allowing more organizations to privatize their data and expand their digital sovereignty. 

The NextGov team mentioned that it hopes to see more developers join the NextCloud community, developing apps and features for its platform.

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The Bottom Line

The NextGov Hackathon provided solutions to several big issues, including improving digital privacy and helping improve digital sovereignty. By allowing developers to share ideas and collaborate on solutions, the Nextgov Hackathon can help governments and other organizations move away from big tech, and embrace a more open-source approach to digital infrastructure. 

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