AWS Public Sector Blog

Addressing Alzheimer’s, citizen services, and coronaviruses: The latest from AWS Cloud Innovation Centers


Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud Innovation Centers (CICs) focus on solving real-life societal challenges facing the public sector. These public-private partnerships between a public sector organization—like a university or local city—and AWS can help unlock innovation, faster. Through the CIC challenges, organizations and students work to solve societal problems through digital solutions and Amazon’s innovation processes while providing students a platform to learn. These solutions and results are published open source, so others can benefit from this innovative work.

Check out what some of our CICs have done in the second quarter of 2020:

Discovering new coronaviruses

At the University of British Columbia (UBC), the Community Health and Wellbeing CIC completed the first phase of their ultra-high throughput discovery of new coronaviruses project. The project goal is to rapidly discover and identify new species of coronavirus by analyzing all public sequencing data. Using the high performance computing capabilities on AWS, the CIC is performing a comprehensive search for novel viruses to help fight the current COVID-19 pandemic. Expanding the known repertoire of coronaviruses will help determine the origins of this pandemic and also help prevent another one. Improving the specificity of SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic tests with the identification of potential false-positive or cross-reactive viruses and improving SARS-CoV-2 vaccine development by providing rich evolutionary data to understand how viral surface proteins change over time.

Making a better life for those with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers

According to Alzheimer’s Disease International, almost 50 million people worldwide are living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. At the Munich University of Applied Sciences (MUAS) DTLab CIC, they focused on addressing this disease through nine challenges. These challenges delivered 33 unique solutions, including 22 technical prototypes. One challenge with the Munich Alzheimer Society focused on helping people with dementia lead a self-determined life for longer as well as to help their relatives stay organized. Students from an introductory-level class software engineering at MUAS developed 14 Alexa application prototypes and eight other applications from these challenges. The Munich Alzheimer Society is currently reviewing the 21 web applications and Alexa skills and is intending to implement a solution that combines some of these ideas late this year.

Providing better, safer citizen services

The California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) DxHub CIC worked with Iowa City, Iowa on improving public health services through data sharing for when first-line responders and service providers respond to a mental health crisis. The challenge: first responders typically don’t know what services or contacts have been accessed in the past, which is challenging for responders to understand the prior services and existing needs—and tailor the response. The Cal Poly CIC is working to help Iowa City first responders provide the right care at the right time and having discussions with OpenLattice, a computer software company focused on driving data-driven outcomes for state and local governments, to build a proof-of-concept.

The Arizona State University (ASU) Smart City CIC recently engaged with the Pima Association of Governments to explore how to use available data and improve analytics to make more informed transportation infrastructure investments. Also at the ASU CIC, the team is working to address the health challenge of senior citizens falls (and subsequent injuries)—a $50 billion annual problem impacting 25 percent of people over the age of 65. They are working on a senior fall prevention challenge focused on the problem of seniors who fall in residence alone at night. The CIC is prototyping an Alexa-powered sensor system to improve orientation and prevent falls.

Learn more about AWS Cloud Innovation Centers, read past stories on CICs, and contact us at for more information.