The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that public sector organizations need the proper infrastructure, capabilities, and controls to overcome disruptions caused by global health outbreaks and the associated lockdown measures. Organizations that embraced cloud services proved more responsive. They were able to continue operating remotely and serving their customers, demonstrating agility, scalability, and speed.
Powering this transition is cloud technology and a remote-first mindset. For years, the cloud has enabled enterprises and public sector organizations to access a wide range of services on demand—from data storage to machine learning and artificial intelligence. The cloud’s scalable, secure, and low-cost infrastructure helps organizations modernize and innovate, obtain insights to make better decisions, and instantly connect to the public. The cloud’s elasticity enables organizations to scale services up and down as needed, optimizing the use of resources, which helps governments save cost.
A few days after the global lockdown, it became clear that organizations that had adopted cloud services were well positioned to overcome the challenges of working remotely. They could simply access hundreds of services, rapidly scale to accommodate spikes in demand, and create new technologies to respond to emerging customer needs. For example, in the UK, AWS partner VoiceFoundry is using AWS to help local government manage increased call volumes due to COVID-19. Two London councils, the London Borough of Hounslow and the London Borough of Waltham Forest, built a virtual contact center to respond to inquiries from the public while ensuring staff safety by enabling them to work remotely. London Borough of Waltham Forest now handles calls from more than 3,000 residents and customers a day, while London Borough of Hounslow’s Community Support Hub helps the most at-risk and vulnerable residents in the community receive up-to-date information, food, and essential supplies. The Hub has made and received thousands of calls to date, a number that is continuing to increase each week.
Scale, speed, and security were particularly important as demand for services became virtual. In Italy, AWS and education technology (EdTech) company bSmart labs scaled virtual classrooms to a third of the country’s schools within the span of one week. The World Health Organization is using AWS to build large-scale data lakes, aggregate epidemiological country data, and assist global healthcare workers in better treating patients. We saw governments use open source services to address mission-critical community needs. Governments in the UK, Australia, and Canada are but a few that have built open source solutions to facilitate information sharing. To accelerate the combined global response to COVID-19, AWS gathered examples of third-party open code, tools, and standards and launched Open Government Solutions for anyone in the public sector to use immediately.