AWS Public Sector Blog

State of Maryland transforms social services using AWS

The Maryland Department of Human Services (DHS) is the state’s primary social service provider. Through 24 local social services agencies, the department assists people in economic need, provides preventive services, and protects vulnerable children and adults in each of Maryland’s 23 counties and the City of Baltimore.

The State of Maryland designed and built the Maryland Total Human Information Network (MD THINK) to deliver integrated health and human services programs to its citizens. By building this first-in-the-nation, cloud-based platform, Maryland agencies can gain a holistic view of citizens receiving benefits and can analyze data across applications to design better assistance programs.

“We can really transform how we deliver social services to our state’s most vulnerable citizens using MD THINK,” says John Evans, Maryland’s Chief Information Security Officer. “With master data management, we can improve service to children in foster care and families in need, as well as those living in poverty. We will ultimately drive better outcomes for them, possibly becoming proactive in our service.”

MD DHS led the effort to create MD THINK, a secure cloud-based technology platform for social service programs to run applications now and into the future.

“We needed to quickly establish a framework for long-term application migration and build a shared data repository,” says Subi Muniasamy, Chief Technology Officer, MD DHS. “We knew the cloud was the right technology to get us there.”

Following an evaluation of various cloud options, MD DHS chose to build the platform using Amazon Web Services (AWS). “AWS is far ahead of everyone else in the cloud space, from a functionality, security, and cost perspective—so the decision was easy,” says Evans.

Working with technology partner, Deloitte Consulting, MD DHS designed and launched the MD THINK platform in six months, and the first application on the platform was live within nine months of receiving authority to operate (ATO). MD THINK now integrates numerous social service applications administered by state agencies, including the Department of Human Resources, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Department of Juvenile Services, and Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation. As agencies need to migrate or build new applications, MD THINK provides a secure, FedRAMP compliant, cost-effective platform that supports cross-agency collaboration.

Using MD THINK, thousands of case workers will be able to securely access and enter social service data from their tablets or smartphones in the field rather than traveling to an office before logging on to the system, because the platform provides web-based access. “Many of our case workers will be more efficient because they can get the most updated data in the field,” says Muniasamy. “They will not have to input proof of income or ID data, because that will be pre-populated and validated through the MD THINK database and workflows.”

As MD THINK is rolled out to additional state agency applications, MD DHS will attain its goal of improving agency collaboration and service delivery. “We foresee savings on operations and maintenance costs, because each agency no longer has to build and manage software on their own,” Muniasamy says. “Additionally, the flexibility of AWS enables us to spin resources up or down based on agency need, so we are not paying for servers not in use.”

Wherever a community is on its journey, even if it’s only at the very beginning, AWS can play a part in the innovation process. By working with customers to identify areas that can be improved with cloud technology, AWS provides the capability and flexibility needed for them to excel in their missions.

This year, John Evans was awarded the State Cybersecurity Leader of the Year by Scoop News Group for his inspiring and dynamic leadership across state government.

Watch the MD THINK story co-presented by John Evans and Subi Muniasamy at the 2019 DC Public Sector Summit.