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Adoption of Cloud Computing in Municipalities Aids Public Health, Transportation and Safety

Jericho Casper



Illustration by Jane Boyko used with permission

July 17, 2020 — Adoption of cloud computing services by public entities impacts many civic sectors, said local officials on Wednesday.

In an Amazon Web Services webinar, local representatives from Louisville and Minneapolis detailed how cloud services helped spur innovation in their respective municipalities, benefitting health, transportation and overall safety.

Emily Ward, state planning director for emergency preparedness and response at the Minnesota Department of Health, detailed ways in which the healthcare sector leveraged and repurposed the city’s cloud services in response to the pandemic.

The department’s information technology sector developed two applications to assist in getting medical supplies to those in need, called POD PreCheck and POD Locator.

PODs, or point(s) of dispensing, are community locations at which state and local agencies dispense medical materials and medications to the public.

POD PreCheck allowed clients to prescreen their conditions electronically, which assisted the Minnesota Department of Health in delivering the best medication to consumers with speed and efficiency, reducing wait times.

POD Locator is a dynamic mapping application that shows the locations of PODs on a searchable map and provides any site-specific instructions.

“The scalability offered by the cloud was the most desirable feature,” said Ward. “This app will still work if more than 5 million users try to access it.”

“It is Important that it remains stable,” she added.

Meanwhile, across the country, the city of Louisville is leveraging data provided by its open source software and cloud technology to better understand the use of new transportation technologies in the city, such as accounting for the rise of electronic scooters.

Louisville’s IT department created an application that connects mobility companies with local government agencies, in an attempt to safely manage public space.

Data drawn from the application allowed employees of the public IT sector to measure the companies’ operation compliance with a geofence the city enforced around a public downtown weekend event, where no scooters were allowed to operate.

The public data not only revealed non-compliance, but further exposed that new transportation technologies are not distributed equitably.

Through the data, the city found that transportation services were not located in disadvantaged neighborhoods. The city responded by requiring more equitable distribution of services.

Michael Schnuerle, director of open source operations at the Open Mobility Foundation, said that the cities’ cloud services play an important role in increasing capabilities to move data across different systems and automating certain data initiatives.


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