AWS Public Sector Blog

Building an application that delivers lifesaving information when communities need it most

Atma Connect is a global nonprofit headquartered in California. The organization, with operations in Indonesia and Puerto Rico, helps communities improve their resilience to disasters and ongoing challenges. Ari Turrentine, operations and program director at Atma Connect, describes the organization’s journey to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and how the AWS Nonprofit Credit Program helps the organization use technology to work toward disaster resilience, social cohesion, and economic development.

Atma Connect envisions a world where people use technology to amplify their voices, help one another, share solutions, and take action. We provide a digital platform, AtmaGo, and local trainings that help ensure communities will be able to help neighbors mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and bounce back from disasters. Our goal is to reach one billion users living in low-income and disaster-vulnerable communities worldwide.

Building disaster resilience—the ability to rebound and rebuild health and economic well-being after a disaster—is directly related to the welfare of our AtmaGo users. And when done right, at scale, it strengthens local economies for the long term. The more prepared a community is for a disaster, the more resilient they are to disasters.

Social cohesion, mutual support, and access to trusted, vetted information are all critical to those preparing for or affected by a disaster. With this information, people can change their behavior, access support and resources, communicate their needs, and receive help from social services. For example, to support our communities during COVID-19, Atma Connect created and launched a community-centered, all-in-one resource guide, based on the vetted, user-generated information posted on AtmaGo. COVID-19 content on AtmaGo has already been viewed over 250,000 times. People are using the app to educate each other on social distancing, understand and track the distribution of cases, share local government regulations and health information, and advocate for those most vulnerable and for their own needs.

Leverage a global infrastructure to quickly deliver lifesaving information

We adopted AWS at the beginning of our cloud journey. When it comes to the use of the cloud, our goals are to provide information as quickly and reliably as possible over wide geographic areas. In other words, we strive to provide our users with content quickly and without error. We use the content delivery network Amazon CloudFront to speed up the delivery of user-generated content like images and videos, and to deliver code, such as JavaScript libraries, to our end-users across the globe.

As AtmaGo expands to serve more users, AWS is the ideal solution to create an infrastructure to connect our different communities as it can shrink and grow with demand. As a nonprofit organization, AWS’s cloud services are a critical tool to serving our users as efficiently as possible, without any delay or service downtime.

Free up your developer’s time and maximize your impact

Atma Connect is a lean startup nonprofit that operates with a small development team, so we aim to use technology to maximize our impact and do more with less. We use Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to host our static website. By not having to worry about provisioning and maintaining servers, our developers can instead focus on what they are really great at—developing applications to promote ground-up resilience movements.

We use Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) to orchestrate our back-end infrastructure, which we use to containerize our application. This helps us create a standard unit of software, so the code and its dependencies can all run from one environment. This has improved our engineering process, making it easier to deploy and manage our back-end APIs. With a containerization approach, we reduce the time spent on provisioning infrastructure while accelerating application development.

Access AWS nonprofit resources to find support and cost savings

The level of support that AWS engineers provide is outstanding. There have been cases where our developers were unable to find a solution, so they sought help from the AWS Nonprofits team. In every case, they were able to help our developers find the right solution.

As a small nonprofit technology organization, we need to be as efficient as possible with our financial resources. The credit from the AWS Nonprofit Credit Program has helped us focus our spending on our programs—and focus our engineering on continuing to innovate. Ultimately, this means that we can spend more time developing new features to meet the needs of low-income and vulnerable populations around the world.

For more information about how your organization can leverage AWS to achieve its mission, check out the AWS Nonprofit webpage with additional information about our Nonprofit Credit Program.