UPDATED 12:27 EDT / JUNE 30 2020

joshua-spence-aws-pss-2020 CLOUD

How COVID-19 is hurrying states to modernize .gov services

COVID-19 has given government bodies not only a public-health emergency to cope with, but also a chance to experiment with cloud and other new technologies to help them rapidly respond to citizens’ needs. 

The shutdown has sent a number of disruptive ripples through society, one being a sudden flood of unemployment claims.

“The demand became exponentially larger than what was ever experienced,” said Joshua Spence (pictured), chief technology officer of the State of West Virginia Office of Technology. The systems were not equipped to take on that type of load, and we had to leverage technology to very quickly adapt to the situation.” 

Spence spoke with Stu Minimanhost of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio, during the AWS Public Sector Summit event. They discussed how West Virginia responded to its unemployment crisis with cloud and the future of government information technology. (* Disclosure below.)

Cloud and the opening of direct-to-gov lines of communication

In West Virginia, the surge in unemployment overwhelmed state employees who could not handle all the incoming phone calls. It had a number of disparate call centers and no visibility into metrics, according to Spence. People were calling agencies that didn’t even deal with unemployment, frantically seeking answers. 

The state could not just hire more people to man more phones. It needed to implement a change quickly and decided on a Amazon Connect — a cloud contact center from Amazon Web Services Inc. It provided the scale and visibility it needed and, most importantly, did so extremely quickly. 

“With this solution in place, the state could focus on phase two, phase three, and beyond. I think the bigger challenge is going to be what comes in the following years after COVID because, obviously, tax revenues are going to take a hit across the board,” Spence said.

Cloud services with flexible, pay-as-you-go models may help government agencies on tightened budgets adjust. They also happen to offer superior performance overall, according to Spence. 

“If there is a silver lining in an awful situation that we have with COVID, one might be that we’ve been able to stretch our use of technology to better serve the citizens,” Spence concluded. 

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the AWS Public Sector Summit event. (* Disclosure: TheCUBE is a paid media partner for the AWS Public Sector Summit Online event. Neither Amazon Web Services Inc., the sponsor for theCUBE’s event coverage, nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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