The company Octree is working on digitising the citizen experience in order to strengthen democracy. Like New-York, Paris, Mexico, Barcelona, Helsinki and now Geneva, Octree calls on Decidim. This open source technology makes it possible to manage electronic voting, participatory budgets, civic debates and assemblies, etc. Thanks to the Infomaniak Public Cloud, Octree can develop a SaaS version of Decidim: the solution will enable digital democracy to be deployed more quickly and at a lower cost.

Octree: a development studio specialising in ecological transition

Today, proprietary civic technologies raise the question of the privatisation of democracy.

Date sovereignty, respect for privacy and the transparency of software operations have become essential guarantees.

Octree boasts a multidisciplinary team dedicated to launching projects in the fields of civic technologies and the circular economy. It is led by Lucien Langton and Hadrien Froger, two civic techs experts. For the past 4 years, they have accompanied states, cities and institutions – including the State of Geneva – in installing the Decidim software for a range of international projects.

Challenges

  • Popularise an open source participatory democracy platform against a backdrop of privatisation.
  • Call on a high-performance, open source cloud technology to develop an SaaS offer in order make Decidim more accessible to the public authorities and residents.
  • Propose a secure and reliable civic digital experience, making the issue of combating global warming the very core of the solution.

The choice of the Infomaniak Public Cloud

The infrastructure is an essential link from both an operational standpoint and with regard to trust. We met the founders of Octree to talk to them about their project and to gain a better understanding of the why they chose the Infomaniak Public Cloud for their solution.

What is the particularity of Octree?

We are one of only two service providers in Switzerland who are official partners of Decidim, an international project benefiting from support through European funds.

Our pragmatic vision is based on the experience of our multidisciplinary team of product managers, DevOps experts, software architects and UX designers. The other service providers have considerable expertise in civic participation and political science, whereas we have solid, cross-cutting experience combining lean start-up with radical corporate self-management.

Which technologies do you develop?

Decidim is developed entirely with Ruby on Rails and we use DevOps tools. These include, for example, Gitlab for the development and continuous deployment of our solutions. We use Docker to containerise our environments and Kubernetes to orchestrate the implementation of the SaaS solution. For other projects, we also use Node.js and React.

In Switzerland, the cities of Lucerne, Zurich, Lausanne and Geneva have already adopted platforms based on Decidim. We are in contact with them and are working with other stakeholders to pursue a federating dynamic at national level.

Why create an SaaS version of Decidim?

Among all the service providers, the Decidim provision process remains too slow and complex. Even if a number of steps can be optimised to facilitate the deployment, part of the process remains manual. Octree’s vision is to provide immediate, simple and affordable access to Decidim.

How does the Infomaniak Public Cloud contribute to the credibility of the service?

At present, Decidim is all too frequently installed on proprietary hostings. The question of the sovereignty, security and integrity of citizens’ data is nevertheless essential in civic tech.

Being able to call on an entirely sovereign and scalable Swiss public cloud committed to ecological issues naturally enhances the project’s credibility. It is an essential selection criteria for administrations and institutions. 

At the same time, Infomaniak’s environmental commitments set an example within the sector. Our solution must be at the cutting edge in terms of combating global warming, as it is one of the essential conditions for protecting our democracies.

Do you have prior experience with the cloud?

We work a great deal on the Infomaniak Jelastic Cloud. It is sufficient for the majority of our projects and it allows us to save considerable time while benefiting from the elasticity provided by the cloud. For Decidim, however, we need greater freedom and control. Which is why we use the Infomaniak Public Cloud. We also wanted to work with a host who shares the values of our project, so as to ensure it enjoys total coherence.

How will you use the resources provided by the Infomaniak Public Cloud?

Kubernetes in the Public Cloud. This technology enables us to monitor the instances and manage the backups deployments of new versions easily.

Why does the Infomaniak Public Cloud enable you to look further ahead than an alternative solution?

At present, many Decidim instances around the world are hosted on Amazon servers. From an ethical point of view, this is difficult to accept in light of the states’ commitment to defending their digital sovereignty. The Infomaniak Public Cloud uses an open source technology and 100% renewable energies. What was initially a weakness has become an advantage, insofar as the carbon footprint is increasingly important to public authorities. Today, we would be unable to promote ecological transition tools without taking the impact of such a service into account, as this would simply be in contradiction with the political message.

What do you not find elsewhere?

The fact that Infomaniak undertakes to provide truly ecological hosting, that Infomaniak owns its servers which are located exclusively in Switzerland and that the company defends an independent position are key qualities in choosing our partners.

Octree is driven by a vision before profit: reconquering the technology to build a better society together. With Infomaniak, we are on the same page.

Coming soon

Octree is preparing an initial version of its SaaS solution for Decidim for the end of the year. The team will use the Infomaniak Public Cloud to fully automate the instances of Decidim. At the same time, Octree intends to provide the community with the tools developed to ensure long-term access to Decidim while fostering a virtuous dynamic with all its partners.

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