AWS Public Sector Blog

Announcing the 2019 AWS City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge winners

City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge

The winners of the annual Amazon Web Services (AWS) City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge were announced today at re:Invent 2019. The annual competition recognizes applicants going above and beyond to innovate for and with their constituents, using the cloud to improve lives.

Depending on the award category and scope of the project, winners will be awarded up to $20,000 in AWS Promotional Credits, up to $20,000 in financial support, and up to five training vouchers to help progress their projects by training employees on AWS tools and using AWS partners to make the most of their cloud solution.

Congratulations to the 18 winners:

Constituent Services

City of Johns Creek, Georgia: The City of Johns Creek, Georgia developed an automated call center based on Amazon Connect that answers citizens’ phone calls using data from the city’s open data portal and an Amazon Lex bot. With the Amazon Connect framework, Amazon Lex gives the city the ability to accurately respond to common questions quickly, enabling citizens to have access to open data through their phones, and laying a foundation so the city can automatically detect the language of the caller and respond in that language.

NYC Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity: ACCESS NYC is a front door to public benefits for New Yorkers, providing help in identifying, screening for, and preparing to enroll in benefits. It does this through a mobile-responsive web application that includes a screener questionnaire for 30+ benefits, providing comprehensive information such as key dates, considerations, required documentation, and methods for application, as well as an interactive map of government offices and community-based organizations.

Minnesota IT Services (partnering with MN Department of Health): Medical PreCheck and Point of Dispensing (POD) Locator Applications prepare the State of Minnesota for rapid responses to public health emergencies, where rapid distribution of medications to an exposed (potentially large) population can save lives. During an emergency, POD sites allow for expedited distribution of life-saving medicine and treatments.

Solving Persistent Problems

West Virginia State Police Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force: The ICAC Data System (IDS) is a web application that provides tools and support to assist law enforcement investigating suspected child predators. The application facilitates the transfer of NCMEC CyberTips across all 50 states, 61 task forces, and three federal agencies as these crimes often occur across jurisdictional boundaries.

Community Solutions: Community Solutions aims to achieve a lasting end to homelessness that leaves no one behind. One of the biggest barriers to ending homelessness is the lack of actionable data in communities. They are helping communities create problem-solving teams, collect and use data that enables actionable insights in real time, streamline and target local resources and responses, and drive measurable reductions in homelessness at the population level.

Sustainability and Equity

DC Health Benefit Exchange (HBX) Authority: Using the cloud, DC implemented the open source Moodle training tools to develop culturally relevant, always available training modules to arm its partners with the information they need to serve local, underserved communities while saving HBX tens of thousands of dollars in software licensing fees annually. Through this solution, they arm partner organizations with culturally relevant information so they can get out into their local communities and get residents enrolled in high-quality health insurance at affordable prices.

Face-to-Face IT: The Face-to-Face (F2F) Child Welfare Data System was created to support Indian child welfare agencies in meeting the federal data reporting requirements. Additionally, their organizational values drive them to build internal staff capacity by mirroring the child welfare practice and processes of each sovereign Tribal nation they serve.

Baltimore City Department of Public Works (DPW): The proposed project seeks to expand DPW, Mayor’s Office of Economic Development (MOED), and Chesapeake Water Environment Association (CWEA)’s YH2O Youth Mentorship Program through the introduction of an IT component and its application within the water industry to combat environmental injustice. The IT pilot program will build upon each phase of YH2O by providing professional development and experience for youth in minority and underserved communities throughout Baltimore to ultimately receive long-term employment.

Powered by AWS

Utility Associates: During school shootings, police and school administrators need to know immediately when a gunshot happens, where the gun was fired, and what type of gun was fired. When seconds mean lives, situational intelligence matters. Utility Associates’ Active Shooter Response Technology (ASRT) provides real-time alerts of the location of gunshots to central dispatch, nearby police and resource officers, and school administrators.

Atlas One: Atlas One is a universal public safety communication application that keeps residents and first responders safe. Today, communication platforms can only send data to people or predefined groups, which often fails during emergencies when information needs to be sent to a location or place but it’s unknown who’s there. With Atlas One, data can be sent to places – rather than people or groups.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Space Systems Laboratory: Zero Robotics (ZR) is a free robotics programming competition that allows thousands of middle-school and high-school students to touch space. Student teams learn to code robots to meet game objectives in an AWS-powered coding and simulation environment. Zero Robotics tournaments culminate with the testing of the code written by the top student teams aboard the International Space Station in “zero” gravity.

Democracy Live: OmniBallot is the platform powering next-generation voting, secured by the scalability, accessibility, and security of AWS. In jurisdictions that have implemented OmniBallot, they have seen voter turnout among voters with disabilities increase by over 300%. In one post-election poll of voters, 51% of voters stated they would not have voted in that election if it had not been for OmniBallot.

City of Los Angeles – Information Technology Agency: As California experiences thousands of earthquakes every year, ranging from below 3.0 to above 5.0, it’s essential for people to use valuable seconds to reach a safe place before the shaking starts. The City of Los Angeles places a priority on resilience and earthquake preparedness and will be the first city in the U.S. to implement such a warning system application across the local area. With this warning system, users can be warned up to one minute before the earthquake hits.

Dream Big

St. Vrain Valley Schools: As industries adjust to accelerating uses of artificial intelligence (AI) and cybersecurity, these fields are facing workforce shortages. St. Vrain’s vision is to empower students to become the next generation of tech leaders. St. Vrain’s Innovation Center, a stand-alone school district facility dedicated to advanced technology-enabled learning, will develop a cybersecurity and AI hub. The program will provide access to AI and cybersecurity education, opportunities to develop industry-recognized skills, and access to work-based learning opportunities for all 15,000 middle and high-school students.

City of Virginia Beach, Virginia: The Virginia Beach Open Data portal is built on AWS and designed to create a central repository and user-driven analytics capabilities for data published by the City of Virginia Beach. Due to increasing costs, they chose an open source data portal (CKAN) and business intelligence server (Metabase). The Virginia Beach Open Data portal website serves the citizens of Virginia Beach, city employees, educational institutions, private companies, and other interested parties.

Circuit Attorney Office, City of St. Louis: The HomeSafe1st app is a consent to search and anonymous reporting system for preventing acts of gun violence. Using the app, a family member of high-risk individuals can arrange for a non-criminal consent search of their homes for unwanted or illicit weapons or drugs. Law enforcement officers can safely confiscate unsafe firearms and/or dangerous contraband and provide referrals to appropriate services for help.

Public Datasets

Louisville, Kentucky City Government: Winner: Best Overall Dataset, Best Documentation: Multi-city data analysis of dockless mobility open data can determine latent mobility demand across any city, including low income and underserved areas. By analyzing this open data, cities will have a methodology to increase ridership and reduce vehicle miles traveled by cars, thus reducing congestion, improving air quality, and making a case for better slow mobility infrastructure on streets (bike/scooter lanes, protection, separation, pedestrian safety).

City of Boston: Winner, Best Community Engagement: The City of Boston has an open data portal (Analyze Boston) located at that runs on Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). Analyze Boston is regularly accessed by a variety of public and private constituents and features 158 datasets, a user friendly interface, an online Geographical User Interface (GUI) to explore and preview the data, and different format data exports. It solves three main problems: data literacy, data transparency, and data distribution. Analyze Boston aims to increase data literacy by increasing access to materials and guides on how to use the open datasets.

Congratulations to all of the winners. Learn more details on the winning projects and learn more about the AWS City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge by visiting