Stadt Bühl is a local government authority in southwest Germany, providing essential services for 30,000 citizens. When coronavirus lockdown restrictions came into force in March, the authority was in search of a technology solution that would allow local and vulnerable groups to stay connected, minimizing the impact on the community.

The solution was Jitsi Meet, an open-source secure video conferencing solution sponsored by 8x8. Stadt Bühl built a bespoke and secure video conferencing solution using Jitsi Meet, called ‘Palim! Palim!’ which was free, easy to use, and required no account registration or data from citizens to safely and securely start a meeting for work, personal or educational purposes.

At its peak, more than 1,000 residents were simultaneously using the technology to stay connected, including care home residents, healthcare professionals, schools, sports clubs, community projects, and local businesses. For example, the municipal children’s and family center was able to run its school holiday activity program virtually, with children able to participate in a video-led craft session.

“Using secure and private open-source technology to connect our citizens during the global pandemic helped us to show them our principles of digitalization, in particular, that we count on data sovereignty and citizen participation,” adds Deputy Mayor of Stadt Bühl, Wolfgang Jokerst.

Chief Digital Officer of Stadt Bühl, Eduard Itrich, who spearheaded the project, said, “When lockdown restrictions reached our city, we knew that many local residents would struggle to use existing digital tools to stay in contact – especially with the vulnerable. With Jitsi’s open-source code and reputation for strong security, we were able to launch our own solution that simplified video conferencing – with no account registration or payment needed, and total data privacy.

“While the project started as a reaction to the coronavirus outbreak, we are excited about the opportunities that ‘Palim! Palim!’ will open up for citizens in the future as we continue to develop the solution.”

Mayur Pitamber, Senior Solutions Marketing Manager at 8x8 Inc, said, “We truly believe in the power of video meetings to keep people connected, especially during a crisis. We’re proud to support organizations, such as Stadt Bühl, to help their community stay connected. The open-source secure video conferencing solution is dedicated to enabling this kind of innovation, powered by a world-class, global developer community.”