ScaleCapacity and City of East Point Collaborate to Connect with Residents Using AWS
Amazon Web Services (AWS) Partner ScaleCapacity helped the City of East Point, Georgia, create new AWS-powered services for East Point residents, including a series of Alexa Skills that make it simpler for residents to access city information. Intrigued by the use of Alexa Skills by the nearby City of Johns Creek, Georgia, officials in East Point sought the expertise of ScaleCapacity to build a similar solution. Together, ScaleCapacity and East Point built Alexa Skills that enable residents to use Alexa devices or a chatbot on the city website to access details about local businesses. Using these Alexa Skills and Amazon Connect has helped East Point provide critical information to residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Technology can improve city life in countless ways. AWS Advanced Consulting Partner ScaleCapacity has ample experience helping municipalities explore exciting new solutions using the broad suite of tools from AWS. One notable collaboration involves the City of East Point (East Point) in Georgia, located just southwest of Atlanta and home to approximately 40,000 people.
Since 2019, ScaleCapacity has helped East Point implement numerous innovative solutions from AWS, including a series of Alexa Skills—or specialized applications compatible with devices that use Amazon Alexa—enabling residents to access specific city information. ScaleCapacity has also helped the city implement Amazon Connect, a simple-to-use omnichannel cloud contact center, to support high call volumes and reduce city hall staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.
ScaleCapacity and East Point are just getting started. “East Point staff and residents have great ideas on how to take their city to the next level,” says Sharad Parsana, CEO of ScaleCapacity. “We’re looking forward to working more with them to adopt cloud technologies on AWS.”
“Because of the serverless services on AWS, we don’t have to worry about scaling. Whether you have 10 users or 100,000 users, AWS services can scale to handle the load.”
- Sharad Parsana, CEO, ScaleCapacity
Automating Access to City Information
ScaleCapacity is a member of the AWS Public Sector Partner Program and the AWS Solution Provider Program. Operating exclusively on AWS, the company is experienced in providing AWS consulting services related to various customer needs, including setting up AWS environments, migrating to AWS, and building AWS Well-Architected solutions.
ScaleCapacity connected with East Point in 2019, when it received a request through AWS IQ, a service that enables customers to quickly find AWS Certified experts who can help them complete projects faster and capitalize on the benefits of cloud computing. Dominic Maldonado, geographic information system coordinator for East Point, was looking to develop an AWS solution similar to one implemented by the nearby City of Johns Creek, Georgia—an Alexa Skill that enabled residents to access important city information by speaking to their Alexa devices. “The ScaleCapacity team came back with the best proposal and developed a demo that lives on to this day,” says Maldonado. “That was our original proof of concept for creating an Alexa Skill.”
Drawing on its expertise in AWS services and public sector projects, ScaleCapacity helped East Point integrate a series of Alexa Skills into the city’s data infrastructure. This enabled residents to easily obtain important information about the city—including square footage and other details about specific businesses—simply by asking their Alexa devices. Integral to these solutions is Amazon Lex, a service for building conversational interfaces into any application using voice and text. By incorporating an Amazon Lex bot into the city’s website, East Point could use a chatbot to provide the same information access to people who don’t have Alexa devices.
Also inherent in the solution is AWS Lambda, a serverless compute service that lets users run code without provisioning or managing servers, creating workload-aware cluster scaling logic, maintaining event integrations, or managing runtimes. “Because of the serverless services on AWS, we don’t have to worry about scaling,” says Parsana. “Whether you have 10 users or 100,000 users, AWS services can scale to handle the load.” ScaleCapacity and East Point went on to create additional Alexa Skills that enable resident access to information about public meetings, forms, and fees.
Automating resident access to information proved especially critical when the COVID-19 pandemic began. ScaleCapacity used its expertise to build one Alexa Skill to provide critical information about local hospital capacity and another Alexa Skill to help connect residents in need with local nonprofit organizations distributing food. When shutdowns led to high call volumes and a reduced onsite city hall staff, ScaleCapacity helped set up Amazon Connect to automate calls to various East Point departments.
Making the Most of a Fixed Budget
By building these services on AWS, ScaleCapacity can do a lot more for customers with a lot less. “If we wanted to set up a chatbot ourselves, we’d need to set up and maintain servers in a data center,” says Parsana. “On AWS, we can use the services without any of that maintenance. And up to a certain number of users, the cost is minimal. In a data center, you might spend tens of thousands of dollars, but on AWS, you might only spend $50–$100 a month.” The managed cloud environment also means less time spent on procurement and a faster time to market for new initiatives.
ScaleCapacity finds the managed AWS environment to be useful for cities like East Point that operate on fixed budgets. Every bit of automating and streamlining can make a big difference, enabling the city to maximize resource effectiveness. For example, ScaleCapacity can help East Point optimize costs for utility management using Amazon AppStream 2.0, a fully managed nonpersistent application and desktop streaming service. “If we use Amazon AppStream 2.0, we might not need several new computers,” says Maldonado. “Instead of purchasing more software or hardware, we can use AWS so users can access the apps they want when needed.”
Using Technology to Expand Opportunities for Residents
These successes have left ScaleCapacity and East Point energized and eager to pursue more AWS-powered solutions for East Point residents. “I’m interested in developing a virtual concierge for the city—an artificial intelligence that serves as a 24/7 staff member, supports augmented and virtual reality, and is displayed on our public monitors to answer questions,” says Maldonado. Another initiative involves East Point partnering with Georgia State University on an e-sports and edutainment project using AWS and game design. East Point also has its eye on helping the next generation, providing summer learning to middle and high school students through AWS Educate, which offers students and educators access to content and programs developed to help them skill up for cloud careers in growing fields.
East Point’s use of AWS has the potential to make a real impact in its residents’ lives. “We’re interested in exploring how and where we can use technology to preemptively meet various needs,” says Maldonado. “How do we reduce the crime rate? How do we reduce vacancy rates? How do we improve healthcare? How do we enable people to increase their disposable income? Working alongside Sharad’s team has been a force multiplier in pursuing and developing new initiatives, and there’s so much we can do together.”
About the City of East Point
Home to about 40,000 people, the City of East Point, Georgia, is a suburban city located southwest of Atlanta.
Operating exclusively on AWS, ScaleCapacity is an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner experienced in providing consulting services related to various customer needs, including setting up AWS environments, migrating to AWS, modernizing, and providing AWS Well-Architected solutions.
Published May 2021