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If you work in the public sector—such as defense, public safety, or government — then you are likely highly aware of the growing expectations for ‘digital sovereignty’ in your organization. Several European countries are tightening their federal digital strategies, placing expectations on agencies and organizations to use sovereign digital tools to the extent possible, including their video conferencing systems. 



What to consider when selecting a video conferencing solution 


When it comes to video conferencing, especially for critical or classified meetings, an essential requirement for these sectors is digital sovereignty. From my perspective, organizations in defense, public safety, and government are increasingly seeking technological and commercial autonomy. For instance, the German Ministry of the Interior explicitly defines in their federal digital strategy that digitalization must include digitally sovereign solutions to the extent possible. 


The reality is that many of these public sector organizations are embracing hybrid solutions. This means they have one video conferencing solution for every day, non-sensitive meetings and a secondary digitally sovereign solution suited for mission-critical uses. 



Importance of digitally sovereign video conferencing solutions 


There are two key reasons why a digitally sovereign video conferencing solution is important for mission-critical use cases. The first is about control over the video conferencing data. For mission-critical meetings, it’s essential to maintain control over where that data is stored and where it is transported to comply with data sovereignty requirements. This requires a self-hosted or private cloud solution. 


The second reason is to avoid technological and commercial lock-in. If video conferencing systems are deeply integrated into communication and collaboration systems, it makes it almost impossible to replace them, which is not ideal for sensitive areas. In contrast, if you have a less integrated and more autonomous video conferencing solution, it would be easier to replace if needed. This reduces the risk of being tied to a single vendor. 



Ensuring digital sovereignty 


There are three dimensions of sovereignty that organizations should consider: 

  • Data sovereignty: Ensure as much data sovereignty as possible. This involves controlling where and how your data is stored and processed. 
  • Operational sovereignty: Achieve operational autonomy by running the video conferencing solution yourself on-premises or having a trusted partner run it for you in a private cloud. This includes both technical and commercial aspects, ensuring you are not bound to a public cloud subscription model. You should have the option to host the solution yourself or use fully managed services from partners. 
  • Technological sovereignty: Integrate the solution into your existing systems to the extent possible and adapt the user interface to your requirements. 

For less critical applications, public cloud solutions can work well for organizations. However, for mission-critical use cases, standalone sovereign cloud solutions are necessary to maintain digital sovereignty. 



Next steps for organizations 


Public sector organizations should start by assessing their current video conferencing solutions and identify areas where sovereignty can be improved. Engage with vendors that offer fully sovereign solutions and consider the long-term implications of vendor lock-in. By doing this in the pre-tender phase, organizations can influence the requirements in tenders, ensuring they meet digital sovereignty mandates to protect their mission-critical videoconferencing use cases. 


Reflecting on these aspects can help ensure that we are prepared for the increasing requirements for sovereign video communication in Europe. 


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