We were already proud to announce that the national agency for the digitalisation of the healthcare system in Germany (gematik) had selected Matrix as the open standard on which to base all its interoperable instant messaging standard, back in 2021.

We are now delighted to let the world know that they are doubling down on sovereignty and sustainability: gematik is the first organisation of the public sector to join the Matrix.org Foundation as a Silver member.

Collaboration in the public sector

Our friends at the FSFE have been calling for software used in public services to be free software in their Public Money Public Code campaign. As advocates of open standards and an open source project ourselves, this is something we can get behind.

Software development can be an impenetrable world for people who don’t work in the field. It can sometimes be difficult for people outside of our industry to understand the importance of bitrotting and refactoring. One very unfortunate effect of this is that new features are easy to fund because they feel very tangible, but the most critical housekeeping work is not as appealing.

Yet, without regular refactoring to clean things up, it gets increasingly costly and difficult to add new features. Counterintuitively, spending money on “the boring tasks” is the most efficient use of money: without it the technical stack would become either obsolete, bloated, or both, and it would be much more costly to move to something else or maintain an in-house fork.

We’re very happy gematik is doing the right thing by supporting the technical stack it builds TI-Messenger on. By supporting the Matrix.org Foundation, gematik contributes to the sustainability of the protocol powering the communications of the German healthcare system… but not exclusively.

Sharing costs across public services, and with the private sector

Matrix is an open standard, which means not only everyone can use it: when someone contributes to Matrix, everyone benefits from it. This makes Matrix particularly interesting for the public sector: if the German healthcare contributes to Matrix, the German Armed Forces benefit from it, and the other way around. It allows both to contribute less of their budget, instead of contributing each to an entirely different product. The German Federal Ministry of Defence already actively contributes to Matrix development and funding via its public IT services provider BWI GmbH, who relies on Element’s consulting services to develop their own Matrix-based messenger.

But Matrix being open source, it also allows the public and private sector to share the costs of maintenance by design. The public sector benefits from the contributions of the private sector to Matrix, and the opposite is true as well.

The Foundation plays a critical technical and social role in this system: it centralises and curates contributions to the protocol so it remains unbiased, coherent, and efficient.

This is just a beginning

We’re extremely happy to welcome the first public sector organisation in the Matrix.org Foundation! Given how popular Matrix is among governments and the public sector in general, we know this is just a beginning: it would be illogical to deploy any solution at a large scale without contributing to its sustainability.

Whether you’re an organisation from the public or the private sector, looking to cut costs down by building on a common, standard and reliable foundation, you can support Matrix and join the Foundation today.