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Government Cloud Authors: Kevin Jackson, Dana Gardner, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Scott Sobhani

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Amazon Web Services Announces Eight Winners of the Global City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge

Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS), an Amazon.com company (NASDAQ: AMZN), today announced the winners of the first City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge. The New York City Department of Transportation, City of Asheville, London City Airport, and the City and County of San Francisco Planning Department were each awarded $50,000 in AWS credits, and application developers Azavea, Neptune Technology Group, NuCivic, and Str LLC were each awarded $25,000 in AWS credits. The eight winners were selected by AWS and a panel of worldwide experts based on the impact of their solution, likelihood of long-term success, implementation of AWS services, and the potential to help other local governments solve similar challenges. To learn more about how public sector customers are using AWS and the AWS GovCloud (US) Region, visit http://aws.amazon.com/publicsector/.

Four grand prize winners were selected for the Best Practices Award, recognizing innovative and impactful local government projects running on the AWS Cloud:

  • New York City Department of Transportation – Mobile and web applications that make real-time transportation information more accessible and useful to residents and visitors, including an interactive map of city parking regulations, a pedestrian city travel planning app, and online maps of construction sites and capital projects.
  • City of Asheville – Modern, cloud-based disaster recovery system to keep essential city operations up and running in the event of power outages, earthquakes, and major weather events.
  • London City Airport – Traveler app that brings together real-time data from sensors, airline systems, and airport services to help passengers efficiently navigate the airport.
  • City and County of San Francisco Planning Department – Website for citizens, businesses, and city employees to access detailed property information for zoning, real estate transactions, and permitting.

Four grand prize winners were selected for the Partners in Innovation Award, recognizing applications that solve local government challenges:

  • Azavea (HunchLab) – Machine learning application that uses data on crime history, weather, neighborhood businesses, and other real-time information to help police departments employ “predictive policing” to forecast the likelihood of crime and redirect resources to high-risk areas.
  • NuCivic (NuCivic DATA) – Open source data management platform that allows governments to make a wide range of open data sets available to the public. Civil servants can use these data sets to benchmark their cities and inform decisions and policies; developers can use them to build services and applications for citizens.
  • Neptune Technology Group (N_SIGHT IQ) – Cloud-based data mart for local utility companies to leverage water usage data to better manage local resources. Utility companies have used N_SIGHT IQ to reduce local water usage and customer complaints by giving citizens the tools and information to better track and manage their water usage.
  • Str LLC (ePropertyPlus) – Property inventory management system that helps cities effectively manage community revitalization efforts by aggregating and mapping data on ownership, development grants, and construction plans for vacant and abandoned properties.

“We use the cloud to increase the availability and resiliency of our applications and systems,” said Cordell Schachter, CTO, New York City Department of Transportation. “It helps us provide important transportation information directly to the public and to our staff every day and during critical times.”

According to Robert Cheetham, president and CEO of Azavea, “We anticipate a world in which geospatial analysis is a broad foundation upon which government, private, and non-profit organizations operate. We use AWS to work toward that vision and we are thrilled that our application, HunchLab, has been recognized through this challenge.”

Government Agency Adoption

The AWS City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge winners are among the growing number of partners, government agencies, and nonprofits leveraging AWS for a wide range of applications and initiatives, including the US Department of the Navy, National Institutes of Health, Securities and Exchange Commission, the US Department of Interior, The US Food and Drug Administration, The US Department of Treasury, and the City of Melbourne. With more than 800 government agencies worldwide, AWS and its partners have made it easier than ever for government agencies to procure reliable, secure cloud infrastructure from AWS by adding several contract vehicles over the last 12 months, including US Department of Treasury Public Cloud Web Hosting Services, the Department of Interior Foundation Cloud contract, the Texas Department of Information Resources contract, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s eFAST contract.

The US Department of Treasury runs its public web site, Treasury.gov, on AWS, and has made AWS services available for other agencies to purchase through the Department of Treasury Public Cloud Web Hosting Services contract. “We know that the cloud is a fantastic opportunity for government agencies to scale without limits – but within their budget constraints,” said Tim Womack, Director, Enterprise Business Solutions, US Department of the Treasury. “It’s very compelling for federal agencies to work with a vendor who is constantly innovating and refreshing its technology without raising prices.”

AWS Customers Innovating in Education

Today, more than 3,000 education institutions, including public and private universities, community colleges, and K-12 schools and districts are leveraging AWS. The AWS Education Grants program has provided millions of dollars in AWS service credits to students and researchers, who have made advances in health and disease research, scientific computing, and applied science. In the last 12 months, AWS has supported grants to students and researchers at more than 1,000 universities in 99 countries.

AWS Education Research Grant recipient and Penn State Assistant Professor Dr. Howard Salis developed a high-performance computing platform accessible to researchers via a web portal. “The DNA Compiler was designed to change the way that genetic engineering is done by leveraging high performance cloud computing technologies to replace trial and error approaches,” said Dr. Salis. “Thousands of registered users from 56 countries have designed more than 50,000 synthetic DNA sequences using the compiler. The AWS Cloud accelerates biotech research by allowing our predictive models and design methods to be immediately accessible to thousands of world-wide users who can receive useful results even before our research articles are published.”

By providing a technology platform with very broad functionality and a global footprint of datacenters, AWS is helping education technology companies such as Coursera, DreamBox Learning, Echo360, LiveSchool, and Knewton, Inc. innovate and scale education applications that are changing and extending the classroom experience, introducing new techniques such as gamification and adaptive learning, and increasing communication and collaboration between educators, families, and students.

Knewton, Inc., an education technology company that personalizes digital courses, was able to launch its educational technology quickly by operating its infrastructure on AWS. The company has been able to rely on AWS as more than 3.5 million students have used its adaptive learning platform for personalized learning plans. “At the beginning of the school year, we’ll see hundreds of thousands of students coming into the system all at once,” said Ryan Prichard, CTO, Knewton “One of the best things about AWS is the ability to scale quickly with very little advance notice.”

To learn more about the City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge, visit http://aws.amazon.com/stateandlocal/cityonacloud/. For a complete description of prizes and applicable territories, read the contest official rules at http://aws.amazon.com/stateandlocal/cityonacloud/rules/.

About Amazon Web Services

Launched in 2006, Amazon Web Services, Inc. began exposing key infrastructure services to businesses in the form of web services -- now widely known as cloud computing. The ultimate benefit of cloud computing, and AWS, is the ability to leverage a new business model and turn capital infrastructure expenses into variable costs. Businesses no longer need to plan and procure servers and other IT resources weeks or months in advance. Using AWS, businesses can take advantage of Amazon's expertise and economies of scale to access resources when their business needs them, delivering results faster and at a lower cost. Today, Amazon Web Services provides a highly reliable, scalable, low-cost infrastructure platform in the cloud that powers hundreds of thousands of enterprise, government and startup customers businesses in 190 countries around the world. Amazon Web Services offers over 30 different services, including Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS). AWS Cloud services are available to customers from data center locations in the U.S., Brazil, Europe, Japan, Singapore, Australia and China.

About Amazon.com

Amazon opened on the World Wide Web in July 1995. The company is guided by three principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, and long-term thinking. Customer reviews, 1-Click shopping, personalized recommendations, Prime, Fulfillment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Fire phone, Fire tablets, and Fire TV are some of the products and services pioneered by Amazon.

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