Europe’s growing discomfort with everything from US software telemetry to the CLOUD Act, via the supposed concentration risk implicit in the adoption of US hyperscaler cloud services has not gone unnoticed by most. (Gaia-X is perhaps its greatest, if most inchoate manifestation.) One major beneficiary of this malaise has been Matrix: an open standard for interoperable, decentralised, real-time communication over IP that lets users build decentralised private communication networks, hosted (oh the novelty) on their very own servers.
Matrix has already been something of a quiet triumph in France in particular; where the government has used it as a base for its own customised encrypted messaging application that serves some 5.5 million civil servants. Element, a company set up by Matrix’s founders that offers Matrix hosting as well as its own encrypted app built on Matrix meanwhile in 2020 won a landmark 350,000 seat deal to underpin comms across the German education system. And Matrix itself now cites something in the region of an impressive 35 million users.
The news came July 21, 2021, with German federal agency gematik — majority-owned by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Health, and responsible for the digital transformation of Germany’s sprawling healthcare sector (think a German NHSX) — creating a “nationwide decentralised private communication network – based on Matrix – to support potentially more than 150,000 healthcare organisations within Germany’s national healthcare system” as Matrix’s team put it.