Here Are the Winners of the 2017 AWS Cloud Challenge

If you work in government, you probably have a sense of how important cloud services can be to public service. From streamlining services to providing a more reliable physical framework than traditional data centers, it’s no wonder why many in the public sector see it as the future.

On the federal side, the Office of Management and Budget, Homeland Security Department and General Services Administration are conducting a pilot with two agencies to determine if cloud cybersecurity is thorough enough for widespread government implementation. State and local governments are likewise exploring cloud possibilities in a variety of fields.

To highlight these innovative uses, Amazon Web Services is opening the City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge 2018 for entrants. The contest recognizes some of the most creative projects on the cloud in four categories: “Best Practices,” “Dream Big,” “Partners In Innovation” and “We Power Tech,” which will reward entrants that primarily serve underrepresented groups (black, Latino, Native American, LGBTQ and individuals with disabilities).

Wondering if your government or school district has what it takes to be considered for this year’s City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge? Take a look at a few of the stories from 2017 winners to get a better idea of what AWS is looking for. Interested in applying? Visit the City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge website.

Seminole County Public Schools and Solodev

Winner — Best Practices Award (Large). In an effort to compete with well-funded private schools and provide a better web experience to students, families and faculty, Seminole County Public Schools in Florida used the power of the Solodev platform built on AWS to set a new standard for web presence while saving money.

With more than 67,000 students and 10,000 employees, SCPS required a secure and mobile-responsive website that could keep up with the county’s growth. The dated aesthetic and cumbersome back-end system of its old website had become a problem for both accessing resources and marketing.

Louisville Metro Government

Winner — Dream Big Award (Large). Louisville is building a next-generation, adaptive traffic flow management system that can sense detrimental systemic changes to traffic and automatically adjust city infrastructure to mitigate the impact.

The project is still in development, but Louisville plans to use machine learning, real-time traffic data, Internet of Things infrastructure and interconnected systems to revolutionize traffic management. The city’s data warehouse runs on AWS, which simplifies, sharing and analyzing across departments.

Iowa City, Iowa

Winner — Dream Big Award (Mid-Sized). Iowa City will use inter-departmental data to predict and identify populations that would benefit from a pre-jail diversion program, to better understand infrastructure costs, to increase efficiencies and use the data to show improved outcomes. It will also use the data to identify high utilizers of law enforcement, emergency medical services, emergency room and jail services.

The city, which has a population of about 75,000, is looking to combine these normally-independent data sets to generate a more holistic view of crime and the factors that increase its likelihood.

Blue Spurs

Winner — Partners In Innovation. In partnership with the government of New Brunswick, Canada, Blue Spurs created the Blue Kit, which is a low-code IoT educational starter kit for middle and high schoolers. It walks students through building IoT projects in an interactive, fun environment.

For example, students can create a project in which voice commands through Amazon Lex control an LED light. These are some of the same technologies powering state-of-the-art IoT applications, and Blue Spurs has made them accessible in a classroom lab environment.

Know a project that deserves this kind of recognition? Visit the City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge website to apply.

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