Cloud Services Provide a Digital Lifeline for Critical Government, Healthcare Sectors

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The COVID-19 pandemic has tested the ability of government agencies and healthcare providers to deliver critical services and information to individuals and businesses, as many IT systems were suddenly overwhelmed with more requests than they could handle.

Cloud services have enabled organizations to handle surges in demand and a sudden shift to remote work to manage through the crisis. Flexible, scalable, cloud-based IT infrastructure has proven vital to many software and service providers across Europe, allowing them to maintain communications and delivery of essential services to those in need.

The first priority when the virus first took hold across Europe was managing the spread of the virus. Covidapp.eu developed an app to map and visualize the movement trajectories of infected people. The app lets anyone upload their movement history and cross-check it against records of infected people. If a location match is found, the person can assess the risk of having visited that location.

Cloudvisor, a cloud consultancy based in the Baltics, helped migrate the app to Amazon Web Services (AWS) after unpredictable spikes in usage impacted performance and usefulness.

Covidapp.eu is sharing the tool with governments, healthcare, and media organizations, with the goal of creating maps of newly found cases to demonstrate risk to the public and to help control the spread of COVID-19. “The scalability and speed of the cloud really came through here,” said Mantas Mazuna, CEO of Covidapp.eu.

A second priority for governments involved processing financial assistance applications from small and mid-sized businesses impacted by the shutdown. In Germany, T-Systems received a call on a Friday in mid-March that the systems processing these applications had collapsed under the weight of the 1,000x increase in the volume of requests. T-Systems spent the weekend migrating the system to VMware Cloud on AWS. By Monday, the system was able to process all incoming requests. Cloud infrastructures are inherently better able to scale up or down on the fly, as business needs dictate, and T-Systems was able to quickly transition to a system that saw a 400% increase in performance over the government’s previous infrastructure. 

The spread of the virus made it imperative for governments to ensure the safety of medically at-risk citizens. In the UK, PA Consulting helped Hampshire County Council launch a program to identify, contact and, if necessary, arrange care for vulnerable individuals. The local authority was using a traditional contact center to call local residents, which was both time-consuming and inefficient. PA Consulting built an automated solution that leverages Amazon Connect and other AWS solutions to perform automated calls and, based on responses, route the person directly to a contact center rep for support.

The impact was significant: The solution processed the calls 12 times faster than the traditional call center and reduced staff needs by 92%, at 10% of the cost of the human contact center. In addition to Amazon Connect, PA Consulting used Amazon QuickSight to build a comprehensive reporting dashboard and Amazon Pinpoint to send texts from local numbers, increasing the likelihood of making a connection. 

As COVID infections reached their peak, hospitals had to maximize capacities to free up beds for COVID patients. That created a backlog of elective surgery, which in turn required healthcare providers to find new ways to streamline planning and recovery times for surgeries. Technology played a vital role here as well.

For example, technology from Axial3D enables doctors to turn static CT scans and other 2D images into 3D-printed anatomical models, which not only makes it easier for the patient to understand what’s happening, but also better prepares the surgeon for what they will find when they perform an operation.

Surgeons using Axial3D’s models have reduced the time required to complete complex surgeries by an average of 62 minutes, according to CEO Roger Johnston. Post-surgery recovery times have also improved by 15%. The Axial3D technology was built using Amazon SageMaker and runs on AWS Cloud, which supplies the compute and intelligence needed to recognize and label every bone, ligament, and blood vessel with a high degree of precision and speed. 

The uncertainty and disruption caused by the global pandemic quickly overwhelmed many government agencies and other public sector institutions. Amazon Partner Network (APN) partners and customers using AWS Cloud infrastructure were quick to react to the crisis, keeping citizens and local businesses informed and supporting those most in need.

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