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Amazon names City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge winners

Winners include solutions to address homelessness, school shootings, emergency response and more.


The winners of the annual Amazon Web Services (AWS) City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge were announced this week at the re:Invent 2019 event.


The sixth annual contest includes categories for constituent services, solving persistent problems, sustainability and equity, powered by AWS, dream big and public datasets.


The competition received more than 100 nominee use cases around how AWS customers are using the cloud to innovate and improve quality of life for citizens.


Winners will be awarded up to $20,000 in AWS Promotional Credits, up to $20,000 in financial support, and up to five AWS training vouchers.


Amazon named 18 winners in total:


Constituent services

  • City of Johns Creek, Georgia: The city has developed an automated call centre based on Amazon Connect that answers citizens’ phone calls using data from the city’s open data portal and an Amazon Lex bot.
  • NYC Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity: The ACCESS NYC application is described as a “front door to public benefits for New Yorkers”, helping citizens identify, screen for and prepare to enrol in benefits. It includes a screener questionnaire for 30+ benefits, providing key information such as important dates, required documentation and methods for application, as well as an interactive map of government offices and community-based organisations.
  • Minnesota IT Services (partnering with MN Department of Health): During an emergency, Medical PreCheck and Point of Dispensing (POD) Locator Applications sites allow for faster distribution of life-saving medicine and treatments.

Johns Creek has developed an automated call centre based on Amazon Connect that answers citizens’ phone calls using data from the city’s open data portal and an Amazon Lex bot.


Solving persistent problems

  • West Virginia State Police Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force: The ICAC Data System (IDS) is a web application to assist law enforcement investigating suspected child predators. The application facilitates the transfer of NCMEC CyberTips across all 50 states, 61 task forces and three federal agencies, as these crimes often occur across jurisdictional boundaries.
  • Community Solutions: Community Solutions aims to help end homelessness through actionable data. The organisation is helping communities set up teams, collect and use data that enables actionable insights in real-time, streamline and target local resources and responses, and drive measurable reductions in homelessness.

Sustainability and equity

  • DC Health Benefit Exchange (HBX) Authority: DC implemented open-source Moodle tools to develop training modules to support its partners working with local, underserved communities to get residents enrolled in affordable health insurance, while saving HBX tens of thousands of dollars in software licencing fees annually.
  • Face-to-Face IT: The Face-to-Face (F2F) Child Welfare Data System was created to support Indian child welfare agencies in meeting federal data reporting requirements.
  • Baltimore City Department of Public Works (DPW): The proposed project seeks to expand DPW, Mayor’s Office of Economic Development (MOED), and Chesapeake Water Environment Association (CWEA)’s YH2O Youth Mentorship Program through an IT pilot around combatting environmental injustice in the water sector. The initiative will provide professional development and experience for young people in minority and underserved communities throughout Baltimore.

Powered by AWS

  • Utility Associates: Aiming to serve as a response to school shooting incidents, Utility Associates’ Active Shooter Response Technology (ASRT) provides real-time alerts of the location of gunshots and even the type of gun used to central dispatch, nearby police and resource officers, and school administrators.
  • Atlas One: Typically, communication platforms can only send data to people or predefined groups, which isn’t always effective during emergencies. With Atlas One, data can be sent to places.
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Space Systems Laboratory: Zero Robotics (ZR) is a free robotics programming competition that allows thousands of middle-school and high-school students to explore space. Student teams learn to code robots to meet game objectives in an AWS-powered coding and simulation environment.
  • Democracy Live: AWS-hosted OmniBallot is the largest online balloting platform in the US. Serving over 400 federal, state and local jurisdictions, OmniBallot delivered online balloting in over 1,000 elections to millions of voters in the US. Jurisdictions that have implemented OmniBallot report seeing turnout among voters with disabilities increase by over 300 per cent. In one post-election poll of voters, 51 per cent of voters stated they would not have voted in that election if it had not been for OmniBallot.
  • City of Los Angeles – Information Technology Agency: The City of Los Angeles will be the first city in the US to implement a warning system application which allows users to be warned up to one minute before the earthquake hits.

AWS-hosted OmniBallot is the largest online balloting platform in the US.


Dream big

  • Vrain Valley Schools: St. Vrain wants to help students gain skills in shortage areas such as AI and cybersecurity. AWS will serve as the central technology of St. Vrain’s new AI and cybersecurity hub, which will provide access to education and work-based learning opportunities for 15,000 middle and high-school students.
  • City of Virginia Beach, Virginia: The Virginia Beach Open Data portal is built on AWS and designed to create a central repository and user-driven analytics capabilities. Due to increasing costs, the city chose an open-source data portal (CKAN) and business intelligence server (Metabase). The website is used by citizens, city employees, educational institutions, private companies, and other interested parties.
  • Circuit Attorney Office, City of St. Louis: The HomeSafe1st app is a consent to search and anonymous reporting system for preventing acts of gun violence. Using the app, a family member of high-risk individuals can arrange for a non-criminal consent search of their homes for unwanted or illicit weapons or drugs. Law enforcement officers can confiscate unsafe firearms/other dangerous contraband and provide referrals to appropriate services for help.

Public datasets

  • Louisville, Kentucky City Government: (Best overall dataset, best documentation). Louisville is using a multi-city analysis of dockless mobility open data to determine latent mobility demand, including low income and underserved areas. This aims to increase ridership and reduce car usage, thus cutting congestion, improving air quality, and, ultimately, helping to make a case for better ’slow mobility’ infrastructure on streets (e.g. bike/scooter lanes, protection, separation, pedestrian safety).
  • City of Boston: (Best community engagement). The Analyze Boston open data portal runs on Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). It is regularly accessed by a variety of public and private constituents and features 158 datasets, a user-friendly interface, an online Geographical User Interface (GUI) to explore and preview the data, and different format data exports. Analyze Boston aims to increase data literacy by increasing access to materials on how to use open datasets.

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