What Amazon Web Services security certification is doing for government

The Australian government is now getting its hands on new technologies to improve citizen experiences.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor on

When Amazon Web Services (AWS) achieved protected-level certification earlier this year, which meant it could provide storage for highly sensitive government workloads out of its AWS Asia Pacific region in Sydney, the company's head of solution architecture Simon Elisha said it helped "unlock innovation" for the public sector.

"Government has always had access to servers, storage and database but they haven't had access to modern call centre technology, machine learning, artificial intelligence, or translation," Elisha said when he spoke to ZDNet during the AWS Public Sector Summit in Canberra this week.

Elisha said government is now more enthused about implementing these new technologies to improve the overall citizen experience.

He said for instance a lot of agencies are interested in the ability to translate their online content into different languages, while others are looking to modernise their call centre experience for citizens.

"If you think about what governments does, is they talk to citizens all the time and they suffer through a lot of problem of never necessarily having enough agents to answer all the phone calls and that's where you see people wait for a long period of time," Elisha said.

"The ability to have a modern call experiences where a lot of questions can be answered in a natural automated way, and more complicated questions can be answered by an agent, and the less burden to answer these questions is hugely appealing."

Read also: Russian phishing campaign using AWS to host landing pages designed to avoid detection (TechRepublic)

For Elisha, knowing government can access these technologies is only one part of the equation; the real highlight is knowing agencies are protected, something in which he said the cloud giant prides itself on.

"At AWS, security is our number one priority," he said.

"It's something we're really focused on is innovating on behalf of our customers to give them access to the best and most advanced security capabilities."

It echoes the remarks of AWS' head honcho of security Steven Schmidt when he spoke to ZDNet at the end of last year.

At the time, Schmidt explained how the company puts a lot of energy into finding talented security folks, and believes keeping them on "fresh and interesting" work rather than those that are "repetitive and dull" is one of the best staff retention plays AWS has.

AWS builds all security controls in-house. Given AWS's scale, or projected scale when the company first started, an off-the-shelf security solution was never going to be sufficient.

"We have to build a lot of things, which in a lot of ways is liberating because we get software that does exactly what we need and no more, that's easier to maintain, easier to develop," he explained.

Disclosure: Aimee Chanthadavong travelled to Amazon Web Services Public Sector Summit in Canberra courtesy of Amazon Web Services.

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