The following is paid content sponsored by Amazon Web Services.
Through the Amazon Web Services City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge, cities, towns and counties using the cloud or dreaming about its innovations can win valuable Amazon Web Services promotional credits to launch, or continue, cloud-based AWS projects. Whether you are a small local government—serving a population under 250,000 people—or a civic entity governing a larger population, your best practices implementing AWS cloud solutions for citizen programs and services could earn you $25,000 or $50,000 in grant awards. There are awards for technology partners as well.
But you don’t have to be on AWS yet to win. If you are planning a technical solution that will make an impact on your local community, AWS wants to know about that too. Recently the city of Chicago, last year’s Large City Dream Big Winner, used its $50,000 in AWS credits to implement OpenGrid, an open-source geographical information system-based program that enables real-time data monitoring and retrieval—which any city on AWS may download for free—go live. The powerful open data tool allows people to use any device to search any area of Chicago to find out what’s going on. The tool pulls city data, like real-time transportation information, 311 system complaints and restaurant inspections and other relevant public information like local weather reports, Tweets about the neighborhood and more.
After two competition cycles, there are a number of award-winning projects that are revolutionizing government operations and services. Read on to find out what it takes to win in the AWS 2016 City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge in our Q&A with Amazon Web Services General Manager, State and Local Government, Frank DiGiammarino, and explore the past winners to find out what kinds of ideas this year’s judges might award.
EG: What is the AWS City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge revealing about government’s use of cloud technologies?
FD: We have consistently seen our customers engage in innovative, out-of-the-box thinking to take advantage of the cloud. Cities offer an immediate experience of technology that can directly impact you, the citizens who work, live and raise your kids in these communities. That is why we started the City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge. The competition has provided incredible insight into how our local and regional governments are innovating on behalf of their constituents leveraging the power of the AWS cloud. We see that cloud technology is helping governments reduce costs, create new citizen services and improve community engagement within their jurisdictions.
EG: What are some examples of meaningful services – that winning entries have provided to citizens?
FD: The London City Airport entry showcased improved operational efficiencies and an enhanced user experience for passengers by leveraging the Internet of Things (IoT) for real-time data collection, processing, analytics, marshalling and event management.
The city of Chicago entered a beta version of their OpenGrid portal that is now in production offering citizens real-time data on weather, road closures and events specific to their neighborhoods.
Finally, we have had a multitude of winning partner solutions ranging from smart parking, digital document capture to geographic information systems that are currently implemented in cities throughout the globe.
EG: What trends are you seeing from challenge entries in how local governments are using cloud services?
FD: We are seeing multiple trends across our state and local government business today. We find that while some cities are starting with smaller projects like moving their public websites over to AWS, that some are thinking bigger and building environments ranging from disaster preparedness to complete open data solutions providing information and analytics in real-time to their citizens. We also have cities leveraging AWS for projects revolving around city planning, parks, street maintenance, public safety, utility monitoring, voting, archives, job creation and healthcare.
EG: What are this year’s judges looking for in terms of measurable results?
FD: This year the judges are looking for unique solutions that are making an impact on citizen’s lives throughout the globe. They will be looking for programs and services that are solving a specific business problem within the applicant’s jurisdiction. They will judge based on uniqueness as well as portability. One of the benefits of City on a Cloud is that the winners can serve as best practices for other cities to follow and implement similar solutions locally within their own community.
EG: How does the credit system work for the winners?
FD: Winners will receive AWS promotional credits that can be applied toward AWS services for up to 12 months from the date of issue.