AWS Public Sector Blog

What you missed at the AWS Summit Washington, DC keynote

During the opening keynote of the AWS Summit Washington, DC, Max Peterson, vice president of worldwide public sector at Amazon Web Services (AWS), took to the stage to welcome customers, partners, sponsors, and guests to the two-day event. “The COVID-19 pandemic provided an unfortunate laboratory of innovation, which in many ways, has been powered by technology and the cloud,” said Peterson. “And today we want to walk through that journey with you, so we can share insights, learn together, and continue to transform the public sector together.”

Here’s what you missed from the AWS Summit Washington, DC:

Government and security services

AWS launches Zoom’s first product listings in AWS Marketplace for US public sector customers

AWS will offer Zoom’s first product listings in the AWS Marketplace specifically for US public sector customers: Zoom and Zoom for Government. The availability of the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP)-authorized Zoom for Government platform in AWS GovCloud (US) will give federal agencies, state, and local governments the ability to modernize their communication platform in a secure and seamless manner.

VMWare Cloud on AWS GovCloud (US) achieves FedRAMP Agency Authority to Operate (ATO) at the High Impact level

VMware Cloud on AWS provides public sector IT teams with an on-demand, scalable hybrid cloud service that lets them seamlessly extend, migrate, and protect their infrastructure in the cloud. With the VMWare Cloud on AWS GovCloud (US) achieving FedRAMP High Impact level agency authorization, public sector agencies can stay compliant while running highly sensitive government workloads, while benefiting from the higher security and lower cost of the FedRAMP program.

Government agencies use AWS to stay secure and mission-ready

Over 7,500 government agencies around the world use AWS. During the pandemic, at a time when in person engagement was limited, if not completely shut down, citizen demand for government services skyrocketed. From delivering unemployment benefits, to providing emergency hotlines and managing a flood of new health data, public sector organizations use the cloud to scale and deliver services in new ways, and AWS helps governments stay mission-ready.

Last summer, both the Democratic and the Republican National Conventions had to pivot from days-long in-person events to virtual ones, in a limited time frame, with no room for error, facing a backdrop of information security threats from foreign actors. Both conventions used AWS to pull off their conventions successfully.

In 2016, the Australian government had to shut down its census website because it experienced a series of denial-of-service attacks, suffered a hardware router failure, and experienced a false positive report of data being exfiltrated. For the past two years, AWS Partner PwC Australia and AWS worked to build a robust 2021 Census Digital Service. As of earlier this month, the government has received an estimated 9.3 million census forms and 7.5 million of those were conducted online. Australian leadership deemed census 2021 a “success” and noted that there were no interruptions, no excessive wait times, and no security breaches.

AWS keeps government agencies compliant and secure

The security and compliance requirements that public sector organizations must meet have continued to increase. The European Union Schrems II court case, GDPR, and the US President’s Executive Order on cybersecurity are just a few examples of the increasing regulatory environment that public sector organizations are facing. AWS helps customers access resources, expertise, technology, and professional services to accelerate timelines for meeting the mandated security and compliance requirements in the Executive Order.

In June, AWS announced the acquisition of Wickr which brought to market an end-to-end encrypted collaboration product. When the National Security Agency (NSA) published its Guide to Selecting and Safely Using Collaboration Services for Telework, Wickr was the only US-based company that met all their security elements.

US Air Force moving at the speed of need

Lauren Knausenberger, chief information officer for the US Department of the Air Force, offered an inspiring story on how the cloud helps organizations save time and resources so they can stay focused on mission-critical tasks.

“These guys make the impossible possible every day,” Knausenberger said. Like many government organizations, the Department of Air Force was running multiple sites and applications on outdated platforms. The U.S. Air Force committed to moving to a multi-hybrid cloud across multiple levels of classification, with a large portion running on AWS. With this, they have been able to accelerate time to launch and accreditation, “deploy at the speed of need,” solve for challenges like how to refuel aircraft in the air while travelling at 400 miles an hour, and keep personnel connected in areas with limited connectivity infrastructure using edge devices. “We take a lot of incoming fire in the cyber domain,” she said. “We have set up an incredible environment,” she added, with largely automated security solutions to keep data safe.


AWS launches a health equity initiative program

AWS will spearhead a three-year $40 million commitment to harness the power of cloud technology to advance health equity globally. With the program, AWS will offer AWS Promotional Credit and technical expertise to qualified organizations around the world that are advancing health equity in three areas: increasing access to health and social services for underserved and underrepresented communities; advancing progress on social, behavioral, and social determinants of health; or leveraging data to identify and inform interventions for more equitable systems of care.

AWS celebrates Children’s National Hospital’s 150th birthday with $100,000 donation

For nearly a decade, Children’s National Hospital researchers have used AWS to help advance their groundbreaking research to develop personalized care strategies to fight cancer based on big data, and identify gene targets and predict where we may discover tomorrow’s cures. They use AWS at their new one-of-a-kind Research & Innovation Campus in Washington, D.C. to save and improve the lives of millions of kids. Next month, Children’s National will be celebrating its 150th birthday with a “Race for Every Child” virtual 5K. AWS will be celebrating that milestone with a $100,000 donation. Learn more about the innovative research from Children’s National Hospital and how to support the “Race for Every Child” here.

Education and workforce development

Schools and EdTechs use the cloud to keep students supported

When the pandemic forced schools to close their doors to keep students safe, educational institutions had to transition to virtual learning almost overnight. When the College of Engineering at Boise State University began remote classes, engineering students needed specific software programs previously only available on campus computers. To help them stay on track in class, the university turned to Amazon AppStream 2.0 to set up a virtual computer lab that streams applications to students through a browser, giving students access to critical software so they could continue their school work from afar.

Educational technology (EdTech) companies use the cloud to support students with their health and emotional well-being while improving student achievement. EdTechs like Indigo Education Company use Amazon CloudFront to deliver a range of online courses and tutorial content that supports social and emotional health for students from Vietnam and Colombia to China and the United States.

AWS workforce training initiatives ready a new generation of skilled cloud experts

As technology advances, public sector organizations need a skilled workforce to help them stay ahead of the technology learning curve. Last December, Amazon committed to providing 29 million people around the world with access to free cloud computing skills training by 2025.

To that end, AWS has launched collaborations with eight states in the US where AWS works with community colleges, four-year institutions, and high schools to help states develop degrees, specializations, certificates, and training programs. AWS also recently announced the expansion of the AWS re/Start program into Latin America, bringing it to five new countries: Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, and Peru.

In Europe, AWS is working with the government of Andalusia, Spain, to offer a cloud computing curriculum for higher education students across the region in the next two years. Since late March, AWS has delivered virtual professional development trainings to over 700 educators in Andalusia. With this new collaboration, AWS will help reach 6,000 students across 105 schools and more than 175 IT courses will offer this cloud computing curriculum. As the public sector looks to upskill the global workforce and prepare them for careers in the cloud, this collaboration can become a model for other regions across the globe.

Utah DHS modernizes and skills staff with AWS

Liesa Stockdale, director of the Utah Department of Human Services (DHS) Office of Recovery Services (ORS) shared a powerful story of collaboration and how the digital transformation of one agency is helping modernize and prepare the workforce of the entire state of Utah.

When Utah’s ORS mainframe system, originally programmed in COBOL in 1995, started showing its age, Stockdale knew something had to change. “We were hiring COBOL programmers out of retirement,” she said, referencing the lack of accessible support to maintain their systems. The ORS decided to work with AWS Partner Deloitte and AWS, who not only helped refactor and replatform its system, but also trained the Utah state staff as they worked. The project was completed in less than 15 months and at only 5% of the cost of a traditionally modernized solution, with zero downtime. Cost savings are being rolled forward to fund ORS’s modernization efforts over the next five years, including continued investment in employees’ skills development. “Deloitte and AWS’s willingness to treat this entire project as on-the-job training for Utah staff has turned this small-agency project into an opportunity that will benefit the entire Utah state government as we continue our state’s cloud journey,” Stockdale said.

Social impact

New AWS Innovation Studio will focus experts on world’s most pressing issues

Now open: the new AWS Innovation Studio, a virtual and physical space at the new Amazon Arlington, VA headquarters (HQ2). At the studio, customers will collaborate with Amazon experts to find new ways to address some of the world’s most pressing societal issues such as sustainability, housing insecurity, social justice, and health and education equity. The studio is currently already working with Resilient Cities Network, which supports 100 cities around the world. Together, AWS and Resilient Cities Network will help communities put systems in place that can survive, adapt, and thrive, especially given the increasing impacts of climate change. Additionally, Georgetown University is working with the studio to bring to life a big data project to help researchers analyze and access US civil court data to help create more transparent and equitable court systems.

AWS supports organizations’ response to disaster

Since 2018, the AWS Disaster Response team has worked to provide relief and response to global communities impacted by natural disasters. Recently the team provided support to the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Ida, which included providing AWS volunteers, assisting with the deployment of AWS services to assist with communication, and by helping rebuild connectivity and charging stations.

AWS brings new opportunity and investment to Virginia

This week, we rolled out our 10-year economic impact study, highlighting the success of the collaboration between the state of Virginia and AWS. Since 2011, AWS has invested $35 billion into the state through our infrastructure investments—and in 2020 alone, the construction and operation of AWS data centers generated $1.9 billion in gross domestic product for Virginia and supported more than 13,500 jobs. Read more in AWS Economic Impact Study: AWS Investment in Virginia here.

Our commitment to renewable energy helps power Virginia’s economy

In the AWS Economic Impact Study, we also highlighted the positive impact that Amazon solar investments are having and will have on the local economy in Virginia. Currently, Amazon has a total of 232 wind and solar projects around the world with 10 gigawatts of electricity production capacity—enough to power 2.5 million US homes. In Virginia, between 2019-2023, AWS is enabling 15 new utility-scale offsite solar farms across the southern part of the state, with a total capacity of 1,430 megwatts. That represents a total investment of $2.1 billion. Investments in Virginia solar bring us closer to accomplishing our goal of powering operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025. The projects will provide enough renewable electricity to power 225,000 households—equivalent to all of Prince William County—and avoid over 1.3 million tons of CO2 emissions each year.

Putting the “art” in artificial intelligence

Artist Suchi Reddy, founder of Reddymade Architecture and Design, gave attendees a sneak peek of “me+you,” an interactive sculpture powered by AWS artificial intelligence (AI) services that will be debuted in the Smithsonian’s Arts & Industries Building in fall 2021.

With “me + you,” Reddy invites viewers to speak their vision of the future into designated points around the sculpture. The artwork uses natural language processing and AWS AI services to translate the visitors’ meaning, tone, and sentiment into a unique combination of color and light that travels through the totem of the sculpture and weaves together with other spoken visions to create a constantly evolving shimmering mandala of “collective futures.” “’me + you’ will make people reflect on what they fear and what they desire, and reflect on the poles between those states of being,” Reddy said. She added, “AI can be a powerful tool to allow us to see our world through the lenses of equity and empathy.”

Recently, Reddy also sat down with the AWS Fix This podcast to share more about the “me + you” story. Listen to the full episode here.

Check out all of our coverage from the AWS Summit Washington, DC.

Subscribe to the AWS Public Sector Blog newsletter to get the latest in AWS tools, solutions, and innovations from the public sector delivered to your inbox, or contact us.

The AWS Public Sector Blog needs your help. Please take a few minutes to share insights regarding your experience with the AWS Public Sector Blog in this survey, and we’ll use feedback from the survey to create more content aligned with the preferences of our readers.