Amazon Web Services Launches 2016 City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge

In a bid to highlight its cloud services to governments, Amazon is offering $250,000 in service credits to the cities and companies with innovative cloud projects.

by / April 29, 2016

Amazon Web Services is luring potential government customers again this year with its AWS City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge.

The contest awards $250,000 in cloud service credits to eight government and company customers that exemplify excellence in the categories of “Best Practices,” “Partners in Innovation,” and “Dream Big” — a category extolling the virtues of ambitious innovation. While a play to enhance innovation and modern methods in the public sector, the contest also doubles as a strategic move by the Seattle juggernaut to create enticing use cases it can transform into selling points to draw new public-sector customers.

Microsoft, Google and IBM have long employed similar tactics with their own programs. Marketplace motives notwithstanding, governments may find the awards incentivizing if their current IT strategies and projects can double as compatible submissions.

In a blog post, AWS listed three standout examples of previous winners. In 2014, the London City Airport won the Best Practices award for an Internet of Things (IoT) project that applied IoT technologies to improve customer boarding and airport management through real-time data collection and analytics. In 2015 the company Park Smart snagged the Partners in Innovation award for its parking space availability app, and also in 2015, Chicago won the Dream Big title for its OpenGrid project that allows residents easy access to geographical city data.

In its post, Chicago Chief Data Officer Tom Schenk was quoted as an endorsement of the competition.

“With the AWS Cloud, the city of Chicago was able to launch OpenGrid, a first-of-its-kind, open data website and mobile app that city residents can use to search for useful information and events around them ranging from real-time weather, Tweets and requests for city services to street closures, transit data and potholes nearby,” Schenk said.

AWS has set May 13 as its deadline for entries, and on June 21, judges will announce winners.