Our “Gandi Supports” program is one of the pillars of our team’s identity. We’ve always attached ourselves to projects and organizations that offer an ethical alternative to mainstream options.
One of these supported projects is Reconnect, the cloud solidaire or solidarity cloud. This cloud storage platform provides data storage for the personal information of vulnerable people. Sofia Daouadji, product manager at Reconnect shares her experience with Gandi in this interview.
G: What is Reconnect?
R: Reconnect is a non-profit start-up that uses new technologies to promote social inclusion. The basic idea is to help facilitate digital connectivity for people in percarious situations. Many such people often struggle (materially or physically) with storing their personal documents and data, aren’t comfortable with computers, or have difficulties speaking the native language of the country they are in. And it’s hard to find options on the market that cater to these specific needs. Hence the birth of the solidarity cloud, a secure personal space where you can store personal or administrative documents (proof of residence, receipts, work contracts, paystubs, etc.) and share them with different organizations.
G: How did you conceive of the Solidarity Cloud?
R: The Solidarity Cloud, co-conceived along with social support structures, has been in operation since 2016. The power of this tool rests on three differences from other solutions out there:
- On the Solidarity Cloud, you log in with a handle composed like: firstname.lastname.dateofbirth. With cloud solutions available on the market, you often need an email address or a phone number to create an account. Not everyone Reconnect is trying to help has these things.
- We try to keep our interface as simple and visually intuitive as possible so as to make its use intuitive as well. We must make the interface as invisible as possible so that users don’t get lost.
- Account management can be delegated to professional caregivers who can then upload and download documents with the consent of the beneficiary.
G: How was the Solidarity Cloud developed since it was first brought online?
R: At first, the account needed to be created by a social worker. Since then, we’ve updated the tool to allow groups (such as Paris’s SAMU Social) to automatically create accounts using an API, once they’ve obtained the consent of the person the account is being created for. SAMU, for example, can also generate and file a proof of lodging certificate on a Solidarity Cloud account, previously sent by snail mail and often very difficult for a person to get a copy of.
A second development involves training for the use of online tools. In addition to training on the use of our tools, we have expanded what we offer by developing modules on the use of technology, ranging from basic computer literacy to online administrative processes and how to look for a job online.
Finally, we’re working on rolling out SaaS business software responding to the needs of those working in the social sphere using the Solidarity Cloud. This tool is intended to facilitate daily follow-ups with people and transmit information to others on the team in the case of an absence or turnover. We’ll be hosting this software with Gandi.
“We were looking for a hoster with the highest possible level of ethics.”
G: Why did you partner with Gandi?
R: Gandi’s sponsorship provided support on technical issues, a price discount, and above all a solid network. Gandi provides a network of other alternative projects. For example, when we had security questions, Gandi put us in touch with people able to help us.
We were looking for a hoster with the highest possible level of ethics. Our developer immediately recommended Gandi to us. Then we found out about the Gandi Supports program for projects doing social good and we joined in 2017.
G: Why do you recommend Gandi?
R: Flexibility, first of all. At Gandi, we have three servers altogether: one that hosts our production site (web portal + Solidarity Cloud platform), one that hosts the developer environment of the Solidarity Cloud, and finally one as a backup. That way, the developer environment server can be shut down at night or over holidays. We can resize servers as we wish, without being limited to specific models. This allows us to save money while right-sizing our server at the same time. And we can be sure to be able to grow reasonably without finding ourselves blocked by our hosting package size.
Next, we also recommend Gandi for the V5 interface, which has made invoicing much more clear.
Description of Reconnect’s infrastructure
One VM with 4CPU and 8GB of RAM.
The site is written in PHP/Symfony and uses a MySQL database.
We use Docker to easily deploy the production environment.
The production server hosts a second site for Canada (reconnect.social)
One VM with 4CPU and 8GB of RAM.
The development server hosts two sites and a gitlab allowing us to manage our code repositories. Since we know that the disks will still be there when we get back, we can shut this server down on weekends and holidays to save resources and money.
One small VM with just one CPU and 1GB of RAM.
The backup server pushes a copy of the production database every night.
“The V5 interface has made invoicing much more clear.”
The Solidarity Cloud in numbers
- 300 social service provider partners
- more than 6000 beneficiaries
- 70,000 documents stored
- 8 people at Reconnect