How Engineers without Borders uses Nextcloud to make a difference around the world

Originally published at: How Engineers without Borders uses Nextcloud to make a difference around the world - Nextcloud

Technology brings the world closer together and in the case of Ingenieure ohne Grenzen e.V. or Engineers without Borders Germany, it also provides the opportunity to make a difference around the world.

With Nextcloud, Engineers without Borders can manage local and international projects and support their teams through secure file sharing and collaboration.

About Engineers without Borders

Engineers without Borders Germany is a non-profit organization based in Germany that aims at improving the conditions in which disadvantaged people live.

Teams of volunteers travel to countries like Nepal, Indonesia, and Ghana in order to work together with local NGOs and communities on improving access to water, hygiene, and electricity, constructing and renovating buildings after natural disasters, and much more.

To ensure the sustainability of the projects, together with the local NGOs, the project teams train people who are part of the local communities to repair and maintain what they have built together. That way, the improvements can be maintained in the long run.

Currently, over 900 volunteers are active in more than 30 local groups. 14 part time employees in Berlin support them in fundraising as well as planning and implementing their projects.

How they use Nextcloud

Before using Nextcloud, volunteers were sharing files via email and lacked a single place to store information. There was no space to collaborate with other volunteers, which resulted in lower quality communications. It was also difficult to send high-resolution photos, which proved to be especially problematic as each project generates many photos.

With the onset of Nextcloud, that all changed. Nextcloud Files was first introduced so volunteers could store all their data in one place and be able to easily share it internally or externally.

“Nextcloud has significantly changed the process we use to share files and collaborate. Instead of sending files individually by email to ever larger distribution lists with errors, we can share files and calendars with the relevant groups in a targeted manner.”

Maximilian Hippler, Cloud Engineer, Ingenieure ohne Grenzen e.V.

As the NGO must protect their teams abroad, the confidentiality and security that Nextcloud Files provides, which is compatible with European GDPR regulations, was especially important to them.

In order to meet the highest German data protection regulations, their infrastructure runs in a self-managed cluster on permanently rented nodes in a German data center. This is a Kubernetes cluster based on OKD4. Among other things, Nextcloud and its dependencies run in this cluster. Of course, everything runs with high availability to avoid any downtime.

Collaboration with Nextcloud apps

Engineers without Borders utilizes many different apps for their Nextcloud instance:

  • Group Folders – the admin team created a group folder for each project
  • Nextcloud Calendar – the team uses Nextcloud Calendar to schedule meetings
  • Nextcloud Contacts – store and manage all the contact information of volunteers and employees
  • CAD Viewer – each project generates many files which can be viewed, marked up, and collaborated on with the CAD Viewer app
  • Nextcloud Photos – each project also generates many photos. With Nextcloud, photos can be organized in designated folders per project and shared easily with team members or external parties
  • Nextcloud Forms – helps the team create and share simple survey’s
  • Nextcloud Polls – helps teams create and share polls

Helpful Integration’s

Engineers without Borders takes full advantage of the many Nextcloud integration’s offered. When they found different solutions they liked, they integrated them with Nextcloud to create a one-stop-shop for their work.

  • Open Project Integration: Enables seamless integration with open source project management and collaboration software OpenProject. Teams can link files and folders to Open Project, create, find and link work packages directly in Nextcloud, and much more. Learn more.
  • Office Suite Integration: Allows the team to view, edit, and collaborate on text documents, spreadsheets, and presentations within Nextcloud using docs. Learn more.

What their users have to say

We surveyed 121 employees and students at Engineers without Borders to see what they thought about Nextcloud!

Users also like how Nextcloud has:

  • Central filing location and lots of storage
  • Access to files on all devices
  • Integration capability with desktop apps and integrated calendar
  • The professional structure
  • Collaborative work on documents
  • Valuable access to information
  • Ability to keep the same link for a folder over years
  • Covers many use cases and is open source

and much more!

“It’s wonderful that as ONE association we now also have ONE common platform for everyone to work with.”

– Survey participant

“I like that I have access to so much information and that I can learn from other projects.”

– Survey participant

The Nextcloud solution for NGOs

Nextcloud provided Engineers without Borders a solution to serve communities in need through its file storage, sharing and collaboration technologies. With every new project, the team can flourish and stay organized with the capabilities of Nextcloud Hub.

Want Nextcloud for your NGO?

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