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How L.A. County Used the Cloud to Meet Pandemic-Related Challenges

In this Government Technology Q&A, Amazon Web Services (AWS) Account Manager Loc Ta discusses how Los Angeles County handled the disruptions of the pandemic and how the lessons learned from the crisis will affect service delivery in the years to come.

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Los Angeles County is home to more than 10 million people. The county government has over 110,000 employees, more than many state governments. Training and equipping those employees to work remotely while maintaining continuity of services and operations was a massive challenge. Fortunately, many county agencies leverage cloud-based technologies to address their needs.

In this Government Technology Q&A, Amazon Web Services (AWS) account manager Loc Ta, who oversees AWS’s work with Los Angeles County, discusses how the county handled the disruptions of the pandemic and how the lessons learned from the crisis will affect service delivery in the years to come.

How did cloud technology help Los Angeles County respond to the initial disruptions of the pandemic?

Cloud solutions like Amazon AppStream 2.0 provided virtual desktops to thousands of county employees, and Amazon Connect provided remote contact center solutions that enabled the county to staff quickly to allow for a large volume of help desk calls. In addition, the county shifted some websites to the AWS Cloud due to the increase in traffic volume. The elasticity of the cloud helped the county respond in a very short amount of time to allow for business continuity.

Are there specific success stories that come to mind?

The L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and its child protection hotline is one example. The department upgraded its analog phone system to Amazon Connect, which is a secure cloud-based contact center that streamlines call center functions. DCFS is the first child well-being agency in the nation to implement Amazon Connect in this capacity.

The call center receives as many as 21,000 reports of child abuse and neglect in a month. It is essential that it continues to operate. We worked with the department’s CIO as well as the hotline manager to keep their staff safe while maintaining continuity of services. We completed the upgrade on time and under budget, saving the department costs while improving the service.

How do you think local government will be permanently changed by the pandemic?

The number one thing is leveraging the cloud to move with agility and speed. I don’t think they’ve ever had that kind of speed before. If you look at most companies’ on-premises infrastructure, it typically takes 10 to 12 weeks to launch a new application. To procure and then deploy it, the agency must put all this surrounding infrastructure in place. But with cloud-based tools, agencies can provision thousands of servers in minutes. You can go from an idea to implementation in several orders of magnitude faster.

And how will that impact constituent services?

There is going to be a big change in how government delivers services to constituents and leverages innovations. This will be in the form of virtual meetings, contact centers, SMS chat, artificial intelligence, and analytics. Innovation in all these areas will empower employees to provide services wherever they’re at and wherever a constituent needs them.