AWS Public Sector Blog

Continuing the pace of government innovation with the cloud in Asia Pacific and Japan

The unprecedented disruption the world faced during the past two years forced governments to rewrite the rulebook on how they serve their citizens. During the COVID-19 pandemic, public sector organizations across Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) had to act quickly to find digital solutions to everyday challenges to keep citizens safe while managing an evolving pandemic response. Enabled by cloud technology, digitized government agencies became better equipped to offer citizen and healthcare services, which helped improve and even save lives.

Now, as we emerge from the crisis, the lessons learned have set a solid foundation for leaders to drive digitization as a priority. Public sector organizations across APJ are looking ahead and seizing opportunities to drive digital transformation to deliver faster, modernized citizen services.

Continue the momentum by scaling digitization

According to a Gartner survey in 2021, digitally advanced government organizations realize more benefits of modernization, including higher efficiency, cost reductions, greater workforce productivity, compliance, and transparency. Research by Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud Economics shows that AWS customers in APJ – across commercial and public sectors – who migrated to AWS are seeing an acceleration in innovation, with an approximate 28% reduction in time-to-market for new features and applications, and about 40% increase in employee efficiency. Our customers are also seeing an average of around 24% reduction in IT costs compared to using on-premises solutions, and a reduction of about 37% in service downtime.

Governments across APJ are taking bold steps to accelerate and simplify the process for public sector agencies to migrate to the cloud and leverage its benefits. Many are prioritizing digital transformation, putting in place cloud-first policies directing government agencies to use commercial cloud services, or defining national roadmaps to enable modernization of their IT services and systems.

In the last nine months, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has signed six government cloud services agreements to boost digitization in Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia (including national and state agreements) and New Zealand, supporting these governments with our network of local partners as they move their customers and themselves to the cloud to accelerate innovation. These initiatives help governments save lives, provide critical citizen services, and support learner outcomes – ultimately changing the way society engages, educates, and does business for good. They also enable opportunities for local businesses on the AWS Partner Network to work closely with public sector customers to solve some of the biggest community challenges.

By digitally transforming on the cloud, the public sector can rapidly scale services to meet spikes in demand, wind-down operations to reduce costs, and innovate widely using the latest cloud technology. In India, AWS worked with the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) to develop a teleconsultation platform when COVID-19 hit India so that patients could seek medical support virtually from their homes. Using AWS, C-DAC built and launched eSanjeevaniOPD teleconsultation service in just 19 days, and scaled up to serve around 17,000 patients a day across 28 Indian states. To sustain this innovation momentum, governments will need to scale their digitization programs and continuously iterate their solutions to meet the evolving needs of citizens.

Staying secure with the cloud

At AWS, we are highly sensitive to the security needs of our customers in every location in which we operate. Our continued investment in world-class infrastructure across APJ, including local data centres in eight countries, provides our customers with the highest availability and a full range of security protections, tools, and services. Our customers own their data, control its location, and who has access to it. AWS supports 98 security standards and compliance certifications, which enables us to provide public sector customers around the world with the tools they need to make sure their content is secure so that they can innovate quickly and remain agile to citizen needs.

In 2021, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) ran the Australian Census, the agency’s most significant workload, on AWS, which was the first time the Census has been run on the cloud. The Census Digital Service scaled to serve forms to over 2.5 million people in a 24-hour period on Census Day. At peak time, it received about 142 online submissions per second. The security measures put in place successfully blocked traffic from more than 130,000 malicious IP addresses during the Census period. The Census was labelled a success, with no interruptions, excessive wait times, or security issues.

Embracing digitization with the right skills

As the APJ region rides the wave of innovation, governments are also increasingly prioritizing digital skills training for their workforce, recognizing its importance in unlocking the potential of economies from around the region.

This focus on digital upskilling is supported by recent research showing that the growing digital sector in our region requires a workforce equipped to leverage the power of cloud computing to improve public services. The recent “Building Skills for the Changing Workforce” report shows that Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea collectively will need to train an estimated 86 million more workers over the next year in digital skills to keep pace with technological advancements – equivalent to 14% of their current total workforce. Three of the five most demanded digital skills by 2025 will be cloud-related.

In Thailand, the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society is collaborating with AWS to train more than 1,200 public sector employees with cloud skills, so that they can implement cloud technologies at scale, make better data-driven business decisions, and innovate new services to drive improved outcomes for citizens. In Indonesia, its Information and Communication Technology Training and Development Center (BPPTIK Kominfo) worked with AWS to get its employees up to speed on cloud knowledge, in support of Indonesia’s goal of creating a pool of about 9 million digital professionals by 2030 as part of a national digital information agenda.

Looking ahead, we will need to move beyond business as usual to close the skills gap and create the conditions for success. To develop a culture of lifelong learning for the current and future workforce, governments, educators, and industries will need to collaborate to give all individuals—regardless of their background, education, or social status—the opportunity to build and deepen their digital skills.

Solving community issues together

Another trend we are seeing across the region is how organizations of all kinds – from government, industries to nonprofits – are coming together and fostering a culture of innovation to solve some of the biggest community issues across Asia Pacific, from helping marginalized communities to addressing climate change. To help achieve this, AWS launched Cloud Innovation Centers (CIC) in the region to provide opportunities for organizations to collaborate with other public sector bodies on their challenges, test new ideas with Amazon’s innovation process, and access AWS’s technology expertise. In South Korea, the CIC in Busan helped small-scale farmers increase production of one of the country’s most popular cooking ingredients, the perilla leaf, using AWS machine learning. In Singapore, East Coast Town Council, AWS, and Accenture announced a six-month pilot to deploy cloud-powered sustainability solutions to assist in municipal estate management, to support Singapore’s move towards its net zero carbon emissions goal by 2040.

Startups are important drivers of public sector innovation. Many ingenious solutions developed by small, experimental companies get adopted by the public sector and benefit citizens. AWS supports small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and startups to innovate to meet evolving citizen needs. Since 2021, AWS has expanded its Startup Ramp, a program for early-stage startups building solutions in health, digital government, smart cities, agriculture, and space technology, to India, South Korea, Southeast Asia, and Japan. Recently, the technical expertise and funding support by AWS Startup Ramp helped Singapore-based startup SpaceAge Labs use internet of things (IoT) and machine learning technologies to go to market quickly with its solutions for managing urban water and landscape services.

Collaborating to unlock the potential of the region

As governments prioritize improving the delivery and quality of citizen services, the focus is on taking the lessons learned from the pandemic to make sure the acceleration of cloud adoption continues across the public sector. We encourage collaborations between governments, industry, and cloud services providers to enable long-term scaling of digital programs. The momentum has been established, so let’s continue ride the wave and work together to keep digitization at the forefront of the region’s push for progress.

Contact the AWS Public Sector team to learn more about how AWS can help support your journey to innovation.

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