AWS Public Sector Blog

Category: Public Sector

female student with mask holding books outside university building

University of Keele begins digital transformation using AWS

With AWS Cloud-based solutions, Keele University in England is now able to meet students’ and prospective students’ admissions needs virtually. Prospective students from around the globe can now tour campus remotely, and students going through the confirmation and Clearing process (a period where UK universities accept students and fill remaining seats in their incoming class if a student has not matched with their preferred institution) have a more streamlined, efficient experience. To kick-start the university-wide digital transformation, the team decided to start with an immediate need: the admissions process.

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2020 changing to 2021

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. 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.

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On the night before Christmas, children around the world wonder when Santa is coming to town. For the 65th consecutive year, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) will put its world-class technology to work to keep an eye on Santa’s whereabouts. Beginning at 6:00 AM EST on December 24, families can check on Santa’s location by calling the toll-free number 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723). In a typical year, nearly 1,500 volunteers gather at the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, where they receive over 150,000 calls from children around the world. However, to keep volunteers safe during the pandemic, NORAD won’t be able to host as many phone operators in-person this year. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is supporting NORAD by helping their volunteers answer as many calls as possible through Amazon Connect, an omnichannel cloud contact center service. By transferring calls through Amazon Connect, NORAD staff and representatives will be able to answer calls from their homes or offices, supporting those on site at the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center. All they need is an internet connection and a headset to take calls through Amazon Connect. Here’s how it will work: • When families call the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center, their call will be directed to volunteers at Peterson Air Force Base, who will answer as many calls as possible. • If a volunteer is not able to answer the call, it will be routed to a cell phone bank hosted by Verizon, where volunteers will also be able to answer calls. • If volunteers at Peterson Air Force Base and the Verizon phone bank aren’t able to answer a call, it will be routed through Amazon Connect to volunteers who are answering calls from their homes or offices. • If there are no volunteers available, families will receive a recorded message that is updated regularly with Santa’s current location. “The NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center is an integral part of our program, and we are excited to expand our call center capabilities with this technology to keep our volunteers safe while still allowing them to answer calls,” said Preston Schlachter, public affairs officer for NORAD. “We appreciate everything AWS and our incredible team of corporate partners is doing to keep the magic alive this year.” “During the pandemic, many organizations have had to adjust how they operate call centers—Santa’s helpers at NORAD included,” said Dave Levy, AWS vice president for U.S. government, nonprofit, and healthcare businesses. “Amazon Connect allows customers like NORAD to limit the number of people answering calls in-person, offer operators more flexibility in where they work, and scale contact centers to answer more calls during times of peak demand. And no evening sees more demand for Santa’s whereabouts than Christmas Eve.” For more information, families can visit the NORAD Tracks Santa website at www.noradsanta.org. Additionally, Amazon is working with NORAD to make sure Alexa is up to date on Santa’s whereabouts through the NORAD Tracks Santa skill for Amazon Alexa. Enable this skill and request: “Ask NORAD Tracks Santa: where's Santa?” To all of the kids calling in—from one to 92—wishing a Merry Christmas from the AWS team to you.

NORAD keeps an eye on Santa with help from Amazon Connect

On the night before Christmas, children around the world wonder when Santa is coming to town. For the 65th consecutive year, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) will put its world-class technology to work to keep an eye on Santa’s whereabouts. Beginning at 6:00 AM EST on December 24, families can check on Santa’s location by calling the toll-free number 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723). AWS is supporting NORAD by helping their volunteers answer as many calls as possible through Amazon Connect, an omnichannel cloud contact center service. By transferring calls through Amazon Connect, NORAD staff and representatives will be able to answer calls from their homes or offices, supporting those on site at the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center.

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woman researcher at computer in lab

An introduction to AWS for research IT: Getting started in the cloud

The cloud can help researchers process complex workloads, store and analyze enormous amounts of data, collaborate globally, and accelerate research and innovation. For research IT, Amazon Web Services (AWS) can help build scalable, cost-effective, and flexible environments while still maintaining the governance and guardrails for security and compliance. Following best practices, AWS allows for centralized management of resources, improved security and compliance of research workloads, and can save costs and accelerate innovation. What are some common questions from research IT customers?

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KhalifaSat Image Cali Wildfires 2020

Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre uses AWS Ground Station to support UAE and global industry development

When wildfires broke out across northern and central California in August, a remote-sensing Earth observation satellite watched 381 miles (613 kilometers) above the planet’s surface. Built entirely in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), KhalifaSat captured imagery that could help governmental agencies and first responders monitor and assess the impact of the destructive blazes. To help KhalifaSat maintain continual coverage, MBRSC uses cloud services from AWS including AWS Ground Station.

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AWS managed storage

Amazon FSx now available in AWS GovCloud (US)

Amazon FSx is now available in the AWS GovCloud (US) Regions, allowing government agencies, educational institutions, and nonprofits to scale their most sensitive file-based workloads to reduce cost and streamline operations. When customers move their NAS data and applications to AWS, they benefit from increased cost savings, improved security, and flexibility to modernize their infrastructure at their own pace. This allows organizations to focus more on the mission-critical parts of their application and driving more innovation.

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Mais Digital powered by AWS

Government of Portugal and AWS sign MoU to accelerate cloud adoption

Today, the government of Portugal and AWS announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The agreement will help accelerate adoption of cloud computing in the public sector and contribute to the national Digital Transition Strategy of Portugal. Driven by the signing of the agreement, AWS launched Mais Digital Powered by AWS, an initiative that aggregates all of the activities AWS is undertaking in Portugal, to support the country’s digital transition.

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boy playing game on desktop computer

Using gamification to increase student engagement: Hot AWS EdStart startups

As students worldwide continue to attend classes virtually, teachers and parents are working to supplement student learning outside of the classroom. According to eLearning Industry, the shift to virtual learning has impacted student learning, engagement, and performance. Educators are looking for solutions to help keep students excited about learning. Four AWS EdStart Members from Brazil, China, India, and Thailand are using gamification to improve the virtual student experience and increase student performance by encouraging learning through play.

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US Capitol building; Photo by Joshua Sukoff on Unsplash

Design systems make government better—from Washington to Wellington

Governments around the world want to accelerate their digital transformation to offer simpler access to citizen services online and earn trust with effective solutions. This includes things like being able to send notifications to users, providing a single log-in for government services, or publishing public health information in the wake of a pandemic. The AWS Government Transformation Team is here to help. We highlight available solutions and build new open source solutions that governments can leverage. Before developing new software, establishing a foundation with a sound design system is an important first step so our solutions are consistent, accessible, and simple to use. Read on to learn more about why starting with an open source design system is important and how we selected one for the software we’ve built and will build in the future.

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woman taking test on computer

Using the cloud to support remote proctoring and assessment

Around the world, exams are administered to help students and adults further their education and advance their careers. In the US, approximately eight million high school students took a single standardized college entrance exam in 2019. As the pandemic shifted life to virtual work and learning, it also interrupted high stakes exams typically administered in person. For years, EdTechs like ExamSoft, Sumadi (part of Laureate Education), and ProctorFree have been developing remote proctoring and digital assessment solutions using the cloud.

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