How Sea-Watch organizes secure collaboration for a distributed team with ONLYOFFICE and Nextcloud

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Today we are introducing the Sea-Watch initiative where ONLYOFFICE Docs is used in combination with Nextcloud. The organization’s IT department talks about their experience.

About Sea-Watch

Sea-Watch e.V. is a non-profit initiative dedicated to civilian sea rescue in the Mediterranean.

In view of the ongoing refugee crisis, the organization has been providing emergency aid since 2015. Sea-Watch calls for rescue operations through the responsible European institutions and publicly stands for legal escape routes.

The initiative is politically and religiously independent and is financed exclusively through donations. Around 90 full-time employees and 400 volunteers from all over the world are involved in the project.

The ships “Sea-Watch 3” and “Sea-Watch 4” patrol the external borders of the European Union. Sea-Watch has already rescued over 38,000 people.

Since 2017, Sea-Watch has been cooperating with the Humanitarian Pilots Initiative. Together they document human rights violations in the Mediterranean and forward this information to the rescue coordination centers.

Credit: Fabian Melber /


Earlier Sea-Watch used several free services, but with growing demands on security and data protection (also towards the personal data of volunteers and employees) they decided to switch to self-hosted solutions.

For now, open-source software fits in with the Sea-Watch philosophy. They use ONLYOFFICE together with Nextcloud. This setup enables collaboration on documents, ideas and projects for lots of people involved in the initiative from all over the world.

For us, ONLYOFFICE was the only alternative that allowed creating a familiar environment for users in the browser. Working together on documents and sheets was particularly important to us. Flexible rights management in Nextcloud and ease of use also played a central role in order to meet our security and data protection requirements.

Most needed features

With ONLYOFFICE and Nextcloud, the Sea-Watch team has created a single workspace where you can work safely on all documents.

The Sea-Watch stuff finds the following ONLYOFFICE features most useful:

  • flexible adaptation to the needs of the organization;
  • document and spreadsheet collaborative editing by several co-authors;
  • comments and document version history;
  • creating complex tables;
  • using ONLYOFFICE as a MS Office replacement on computers.

Sea-Watch uses ONLYOFFICE to create and edit documents together. As a humanitarian organization, we are also committed to the open-source concept.

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Tags: customers Nextcloud integration onlyoffice non-profits success story

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