AWS Public Sector Blog

5 things we’ve learned this year in the cloud for the public sector

This year, global health and economy challenged government, education, nonprofit, and health organizations to rethink operations. With a focus on their mission, organizations quickly shifted to better and more quickly serve their constituents, students, and customers. Many took advantage of ways to innovate and consider adopting the cloud. Amazon Web Services (AWS) looked for ways to help these organizations, educating them on the power of the cloud—no matter where they were on their cloud journey—as well as sharing inspiring stories from their peers. Here’s what we learned this year:

1. Providing resiliency in the face of disruption

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, public sector organizations quickly shifted to new operational models. The cloud helped organizations scale to meet the need for virtual learning, reduce administrative burdens, and keep teams connected. AWS solutions architects shared strategies to help organizations build chatbots in under an hour and create an outbound calling solution to residents. AWS responded to customer needs with the AWS Cloud Champion: Virtual workplace interactive challenge to explain how the cloud can help in a gamified, interactive challenge.

Disruptive events like COVID-19 expose gaps in technology, culture, and organizational resiliency. They show the need for a plan that includes using the cloud. For example, prone to hurricanes, Florida State University (FSU) understood the need for a long-term continuity of operations plan and solidified how critical a disaster recovery (DR) service is to their overall operations. Learn how to build a business resiliency plan and best practices for building a resiliency plan, and check out the Organizational Resiliency and Continuity Help Center.

2. Using AI and ML to accelerate digital transformation

Cloud services like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and analytics can turn data into insights. For example, AWS helped create CORD-19, machine learning-enabled search capabilities for COVID-19 datasets. In the US, a college football team used ML to game plan and coach. In education, AI helped children with dyslexia. It also helped students learn to write while helping schools help students succeed. ML can help predict and understand extreme weather, analyze unproven narratives on social media, and diagnose illnesses like skin cancer. Learn more about AI and ML by watching webinars from AWS experts.

3. Building for security

Public sector organizations are moving more workloads to the cloud as part of IT modernization plans. When workloads involve mission-critical applications and sensitive data, the added security and compliance scrutiny to keep them protected can be challenging. Cloud security at AWS is the highest priority. AWS customers benefit from a data center and network architecture built to meet the requirements of the most security sensitive organizations. AWS offers Regions designed to address the stringent regulatory compliance and security requirements of Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), Department of Defense (DoD) Cloud Computing Security Requirements Guide (SRG), International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS), and more.

Learn more about compliance in this webinar series. And discover how the cloud can help organizations comply with Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC).

Recently, ransomware has increasingly targeted public sector organizations. In the eBook, “Securing your AWS environments from ransomware,” we share who is at risk and why ransomware is effective.

4. Advancing your mission

Whether it’s readying the warfighter or addressing food insecurity, AWS can help organizations deliver on their missions. For nonprofits, the cloud can offer farmers around the globe the tools they need to increase efficiency and output and battle hunger through sustainable agriculture. For educational institutions, the cloud helped students get back to school during COVID-19. It helps connect individuals in areas without access to internet or electricity with technology and keeps administration connected to critical systems when off campus. Cloud services can also help organizations achieve their sustainability goals.

From earth to space, data helps drive our decisions and behaviors. Organizations use Earth observation (EO) data from satellites above to monitor change down below and make decisions that can help organizations do things like respond to natural disasters. To help drive this work, earlier this year, AWS announced the launch of the aerospace and satellite business. Services like AWS Ground Station are making EO data more broadly and quickly accessible; learn more about this fully managed service in this how-to guide. Learn how Capella Space went all-in on AWS and hear from their founder and chief executive officer in this re:Invent session and check out this episode of the Fix This podcast.

5. Enabling evolving healthcare needs

Healthcare organizations and workers on the frontline serving those affected by COVID-19 adapted to new ways of working. The cloud supported healthcare as they moved to teleconsultations, as well as triaging and addressing incoming requests from citizens and patients. AWS helped accelerate research, provide data analytics and predictive modeling, and enabled open source solutions for all. Organizations like Doctor Anywhere, Ontario Health (OTN), and Haldoc expand and scale their telehealth services with AWS. Learn how to scale and transform virtual care in the AWS Cloud in this eBook.


What we’ve learned through some of this year’s complexity is it’s often helpful to start with the basics. The same is true with cloud and with Cloud 101 and this overview whitepaper the foundational solutions storage, compute, database, big data and analytics, and more are just as important as the more advanced solutions. Play the gamified tutorial, AWS Cloud Champion: Cloud 101 Challenge, to learn more.

Check out more resources, tips and tricks, tutorials, and news on the cloud for the public sector. Leave a question or comment in the comments section and let us know what you’d like to hear more about in 2021.