Innovation Stories from the UK Public Sector
Learn how UK public sector customers use Amazon Web Services (AWS) to build better and more modern public services.
UK’s Department for Transport gains speed, saves costs by migrating ERP systems to AWS
The Department for Transport (DfT), which manages road, rail, aviation, and other transportation systems in the UK, found that using on-premise technology for its business systems left it trapped in an inefficient cycle: spending money to refresh aging hardware, use that hardware until it grew obsolete, then repeat. It ended that cycle with a migration to Amazon Web Services (AWS). Today, the government agency is confident that its IT is secure, future-proof, and able to scale quickly to meet evolving needs.
Using AWS, the DfT can easily develop and roll out new applications without any significant upfront investment. Over the next few years, this could help it to save millions of pounds in expenses.
With its existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems approaching end-of-life in late 2019, the DfT faced a choice: either update its on-premises technology, which would have meant a costly investment in new hardware, or move to the cloud. Either way, it was vital to ensure that business-critical applications—supporting finance, procurement, payroll, and HR for the department’s 19,000 civil servants—could keep running without interruption during the update.
Working with AWS, Arvato CRM Solutions, and Mobilise Cloud, the DfT decided to migrate its aging Unit4 Business World and SAP systems to AWS. The move required a like-for-like IT refresh that would replace all of the department’s on-premises capabilities with equal capabilities in the cloud, while also adding new levels of security, flexibility, and scalability for future needs. The migration also needed to be completed quickly and safely during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under a 2013 government program to consolidate and streamline costs, the DfT had turned over management of its shared services center in Swansea to Arvato. Six years later, to migrate the DfT’s physical ERP systems at that center into the cloud without disruption, a new solution was designed, built, tested, and implemented using the AWS Well-Architected framework. During the migration, large volumes of DfT data were transferred to AWS without service interruption using a VPN and a Gigabit connection. Deploying the AWS solution also required independent security accreditation.
The DfT now uses several Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances that have been optimized for SAP and Unit4 ERP systems. This has improved efficiency, agility, and speed of service delivery, making it easier for users to scale and adapt to changing needs. The solution also uses AWS Transit Gateway, Application Load Balancer, Network Load Balancer, multiple AWS Site-to-Site VPN connections, and AWS Direct Connect to securely connect the DfT’s network to AWS. In addition to eliminating the need for expensive future hardware updates, the DfT has reduced its rack management costs by 45 percent and improved its organizational resilience.
With the UK government’s digital strategy, agencies like the DfT are being challenged to streamline their operations and create efficiencies through technology. “Using AWS has meant a system that provides high levels of availability, scalability, performance, and stability,” says David Thomas, public sector director and UK IT director for Arvato CRM Solutions.
The UK Post Office provides essential services for UK citizens throughout COVID-19 lockdowns
"At the peak of this period customer inquiries skyrocketed by 37% to 4000 contacts a week through their online ‘contact us’ form. Understandably customers needed to check information, be certain branches were open and confirm the services they required were available. We needed a way to communicate more effectively and so deployed Amazon Connect chat enabling our agents to provide customers instant responses to queries. The power of AWS combined with the urgency of the situation meant that we were able to deploy chat – from idea to done – in 3 weeks. Once live we’ve continued to iterate and improve the service with feedback from our customers and agents."
Benjamin T. Cooke, Digital & Branch Engineering Director – UK Post Office
Social Security Scotland deploys a cloud contact center for citizens within 2 weeks
Cloud-based solutions are the first step in a digital journey. The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdown in March 2020 spurred a range of rapid innovation and collaboration. Social Security Scotland, an Executive Agency of the Scottish Government with responsibility for a number of devolved benefits, had to switch from an office-based contact centre to enable staff to provide the same services from home. At a time of national crisis and economic and public health uncertainty, it was critical to make sure people were still able to get support and information about devolved benefits including Funeral Support payment, Carers Allowance Supplement, and Young Carers’ Grant.
Social Security Scotland had already started their digital innovation journey by adopting Amazon Web Services (AWS). This transformation provided staff with highly secure, remote access to internal corporate systems, and meant that the Agency had the skills and agility to continue building on their digital capabilities to benefit clients depending on their support. When the lockdown came into force, as a short-term workaround so that citizens could still access services, the Agency and Chief Digital Office, with support from the Scottish Government Digital Directorate put in place a web enquiry page offering a call-back service from staff working from home.
Meanwhile, the Agency worked with AWS to expand their existing cloud-based solution to include a cloud contact centre with Amazon Connect. This allowed staff to work from anywhere and handle webchats and calls seamlessly.
Within two weeks the cloud contact services had been implemented and deployed. No new hardware or phone lines were required. With Amazon Connect, people can easily connect, via an instant live chat with call centre staff at the Agency, to get real-time advice and support about their benefit payments without delay.
Cloud-based solutions are often the first step on many organisations’ digital journey. Social Security Scotland and AWS show that cloud infrastructure can open a range of capabilities that can be deployed rapidly and improve services.
“As the Chief Digital Officer for Social Security Scotland, it was great to see collective thinking and innovation come together at a fast pace during challenging times whilst everyone was working remotely. The collective desire from all parties ensured that planning, decision-making, and the establishment of the interim service was completed rapidly and stood up with remote staff. the solution allowed the necessary remote working arrangements to continue whilst delivering a service to our clients.” said Andy McClintock, Chief Digital Officer, Social Security Scotland.
The HMRC builds Brexit critical, Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS), in just 6 months
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has utilized Amazon Web Services (AWS) for a number of different engagements in its Brexit program, including the critical Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS) project. As a result of Brexit, new border controls were introduced between the UK and EU in 2021, and the HMRC expected a significantly higher volume of customs declarations, posing a challenge to documenting and reporting all the required information for tax collection. Anticipating this challenge, HMRC sought an application that could scale in-line with the additional influx of declarations, while also minimizing costs and meeting government-required security baselines.
HMRC engaged AWS Professional Services to assist its platform team and other partners with the delivery of that Brexit-critical system, a containerized platform built in just 6 months by leveraging the scale, time-to-value, and reliability of AWS. Project success criteria focused on operational capability, process, skills, and security. The experienced AWS team worked with HMRC to de-risk production go-live and meet its commitment to information-sharing with the EU. In support of its cloud-first strategy, HMRC continues to build on AWS for its EU Exit Workloads and leverage AWS Professional Services for guidance.
The UK Home Office sets up PodDev environment for security solutions using AWS
The Accelerated Capability Environment (ACE) is a Home Office capability within the Office for Security and Counter Terrorism that delivers frontline impact to security and law enforcement services at pace.
ACE uses AWS as the platform for PodDev, a pioneering cloud environment that provides a secure space for its Vivace industry and academia community to collaborate with government to develop solutions using sensitive data.
The ability for rapid mobilisation and ease of collaboration make PodDev instrumental in allowing ACE to deliver results in weeks and months, rather than the months and years like with previous programmes. Development environments are quick to set up and need exist only as long as required.
The Met Office provides real time weather alerts and warnings to millions of users
The Met Office is the national meteorological service for the United Kingdom, providing weather and climate information to the public and across industries, from aviation to marine to energy.
"Users that have downloaded our app receive notifications on severe weather warnings and pollen counts. Moving our communications to Amazon Pinpoint in order to send push notifications faster and more reliably has helped us successfully manage an event generating over 2 million notifications. As a result, we feel better prepared to respond to future challenges. We’re better able to deliver the notifications to our users to keep them aware and informed, taking advantage of the vertical integration with the remainder of our AWS environment. With Amazon Pinpoint, we can now focus on building increasingly more dynamic updates with more relevant information to help our users stay safe and thrive."
Jake Hendy, Technical Lead - Met Office
Scottish Fire & Rescue innovates faster on AWS
"Since migrating our corporate website to AWS, we have seen great improvements in performance and speed. We noticed how quickly the pages load, compared to before. However the real story is the back-end. Before migrating our website back-end was incredibly slow with the media section taking over 10 minutes to load. Over the course of 2020, I’ve been cleaning this up and managed to get the load time down to 5mins 30secs – almost half the load time, but still incredibly slow. Since our move to AWS (and largely thanks to the move to SSDs) we’re now experiencing a media section load of just 27 seconds. This will continue to speed up as we resume the clean-up. This is a game changer for our content editors, freeing up a lot of time spent waiting around for things to load which will also encourage better organisation. I’m also hoping it’ll empower editors to offer more media-rich content on website as it’ll no longer be a laborious task. So to sum up, this will improve the experience for the public, but will also massively improve conditions for content editors too.”
Alan McNicol, Senior Systems Engineer (App/Web), ICT Centre of Excellence Scottish Fire & Rescue.
Merseyside Police builds policing services required in a digitally disruptive age, using AWS
“Working with Amazon Web Services has empowered us to think differently, innovate rapidly, and start to design the policing services required in a digitally disruptive age. This collaboration supports our wider five-year strategy for digital transformation, which includes working with partners to build the culture, skills, and structure we need for our long term transformation. Working with AWS has supported us to focus on our strategic outcomes for building boundary-pushing technology to keep the community safe, and design services which are efficient, agile and scalable.”
spokesperson Merseyside Police
National Health Service, Business Services Authority (NHS BSA) uses Amazon's artificial intelligence (AI) services to improve public healthcare operations
National Health Service, Business Services Authority (NHS BSA) is part of the UK National Health Service. It provides a range of support services to NHS organizations, NHS contractors and patients. As part of its payment services, they process 54 million paper prescriptions and other healthcare documents per month.
“The NHS has long been interested in the promise of AI to improve the quality of public healthcare. Human judgement is critical and in fact is often required for decisions involving medical payments. Amazon Textract is compelling because it offers AI powered extraction of text and structured data from virtually any document. We are excited about Amazon Augmented AI because it allows us to take advantage of machine learning while still applying human judgement. That’s a game changer for us.”
Chris Suter, Head of Cloud Platforms and Innovation, NHS BSA
The Royal National Institute of Blind (RNIB) People is able to change the way services are being delivered to the blind by using AWS
“We are currently using Amazon’s Speech-to-Text technology to create and distribute accessible information in the form of synthesized audio content for our many B2B and B2C customers, including utility companies, financial institutions, and media companies, as well as other customer-facing material such as magazines and publications. With the announcement of Amazon Polly, we’re excited about the ability to provide an even better experience to these customers by delivering incredibly lifelike voices that will captivate and engage our audience,”
John Worsfold, Solutions Implementation Manager, Royal National Institute of Blind People.
AWS in the UK Public Sector
AWS has extensive global experience of helping public sector organisations leverage cloud computing — including over 7,500 government agencies, 14,000 academic institutions, and 35,000 nonprofits. Learn how AWS can support your cloud journey.