AWS Public Sector Blog

Top highlights from the AWS re:Invent Worldwide Public Sector Breakfast

From a new podcast to challenge winners, read on for the government, education, and nonprofit highlights from the annual Amazon Web Services (AWS) Worldwide Public Sector Breakfast at re:Invent.


FINRA CAT powered by AWS: FINRA CAT, LLC, a subsidiary of Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), announced it selected AWS as its cloud provider for the Consolidated Audit Trail (CAT). The CAT will allow regulators to improve securities market surveillance by creating an extensive audit trail of order information for all U.S. equity securities and listed options across U.S. markets and trading venues. Leveraging AWS’s storage, compute, database, analytics, and security services, CAT ingests more than 100 billion market events per day, pulling together data from 22 stock exchanges and 1,500 broker dealer firms, enabling the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Self-Regulatory Organizations (SROs) to analyze CAT data. Read more about FINRA CAT and AWS.

AWS Open Government Solutions offering launches: AWS announced the launch of AWS Open Government Solutions – a curated catalogue of open source code, standards, and assets that have been developed and implemented by governments around the world. It will connect the dots between governments and the solutions they need and enable governments to quickly find solutions to problems that have already been solved by peers.

City on a Cloud winners announced: The winners of the annual AWS City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge were announced. 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. Read more about the 18 winners.

Building a resilient Los Angeles: The City of Los Angeles, a three time City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge winner, discussed their early earthquake warning system and the downstream impact on people, infrastructure, buildings, and the community. Their application “ShakeAlertLA” uses data science on AWS to give users early warning when an earthquake is about to hit. The app, which currently has more than 900,000 downloads, also provides assistance to users during and after the earthquake – such as directing users to local recovery or assistance centers. Learn more about the Los Angeles’s award winning app.

First year of the AWS Disaster Response Program: This fall, the AWS Disaster Response Team (DRT) deployed across North America to respond to Hurricane Dorian. With the support of the DRT, nonprofit NetHope set up connectivity and communications networks at more than 40 medical facilities and shelters. AWS also provided two AWS Snowball Edge devices to nonprofit Help.NGO, using these devices to process aerial imagery of the damaged areas faster, which enabled them to rapidly distribute high-resolution images of the impact on the most affected islands. Learn more about the AWS Disaster Response program and the newly announced AWS Public Safety & Disaster Response Competency.

The VA focuses on their mission: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is using AWS GovCloud (US) to migrate critical workloads to help Veterans get quicker and easier access to care. “Most consultants will tell you to start small in your project and build from there. We went the other way and moved one of our biggest systems to the cloud,” said David Catanoso, Director of the Enterprise Cloud Solutions Office at the VA. The VA migrated their Veterans Benefits Management System – a system with more than 4,000 simultaneous users and 800 million documents – to the cloud without disruption to users. The result was improved performance, improved availability, and cost savings. Read more about the VA’s journey to the cloud.

ATF is “all-in” on AWS: The United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) knew that they would benefit from moving to cloud – but instead of a one-by-one approach, they tackled the entire data tier of every application they had, and built out an AWS enterprise environment to host all ATF apps. Then, they migrated all development, test, and production data into the cloud and secured full security approval to operate. Today, ATF is “all in” with AWS and deploying updated applications and systems on AWS. ATF was able to retire more than 20 years of technical debt, which enabled them to redirect savings to work toward their mission. Learn more about the ATF’s journey on the AWS.


Fix This podcast launched: Fix This, a new podcast by AWS, is now available for streaming and download on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, Overcast, iHeartRadio, and via RSS. Fix This is a bi-weekly podcast of bite-sized stories about how tech makes the world a better place. Leaders from around the globe share how they use technology to fix some of the world’s most pressing issues. Read more about the Fix This podcast.

Imagine Grant winners announced: Finding cures for childhood cancer. Stopping illegal fuel dumping in our oceans. Sharing knowledge and culture. Giving unbanked populations a financial voice. Guiding women facing life-threatening breast cancer diagnoses. Helping veterans access the support they’ve earned. This year’s AWS Imagine Grant Program winners are tackling big challenges using technology. Read more about the winners: Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation,, Creative Commons, Code of Support Foundation, Kiva, and SkyTruth.

GameChanger awarded $250,000: In honor of Giving Tuesday, AWS donated $250,000 to GameChanger Charity. The mission of GameChanger is to leverage gaming, technology, and innovation to improve patients’ quality of life. Through video games, character-based academic scholarships, and cutting-edge technologies like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), GameChanger breaks down barriers for children facing long or short-term hospital stays, and particularly those who are isolated for treatment. The funds will be used for an upcoming project focused on improving the patient experience for children being treated for cancer. Read more about GameChanger Charity and Giving Tuesday.


Disruptive education at RMIT: Vice-Chancellor and President Martin Bean CBE of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University shared how they are building skills for the new economy and to meet the demand for cloud skills. In 2020, RMIT will be launching a masters in artificial intelligence (AI), featuring AWS RoboMaker. RMIT launched AIDA, an automated student assistant that helps students get answers for questions about the university – built on Amazon Lex. Deploying AIDA helped save 1,500 workforce hours that RMIT redirected to more proactive and outbound assistance; AIDA has an 80% satisfaction rate. Learn more about AWS CICs.

AWS Educate continues to grow: AWS Educate, Amazon’s global initiative to provide students comprehensive resources for building skills in cloud technology, is now available in 10 languages and has been accessed by people in more than 223 countries. Educational institutions and states have joined AWS as they build a pipeline of cloud-ready workforce for the future, including the State of Virginia, the State of Louisiana, the State of Texas, University of Bahrain, and the Bay Area of California, Learn more about AWS Educate.

IceCube experiment listens to messages from the universe: Researchers at the IceCube Experiment and University of California, San Diego just completed the largest cloud simulation in history using 51,500 cloud GPUs including Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) On-Demand and Spot Instances to understand messages from the universe. The IceCube experiment searches for ghost-like massless particles called neutrinos deep within the ice at the South Pole using a unique buried cubic kilometer-size telescope consisting of 5,160 optical sensors. Exploding stars, black holes, and gamma-ray bursts send messages in the form of electromagnetic and gravitational waves as well as neutrino particles providing insights into the nature of the universe. Read more about the IceCube experiment.

Continue to stay up to date with AWS news from the public sector on the AWS Public Sector Blog and watch the video below highlighting AWS customers around the world who rely on the cloud to power their missions.