Australia and New Zealand are prone to extraordinary natural disasters, from devastating droughts and bushfires to volcanic eruptions and once-in-a-hundred-year floods. These events have touched all corners of society and tested the resilience of even the hardiest communities.

We believe at Amazon Web Services (AWS) that it’s important we work alongside our customers and partners to help people respond to crises, and to develop solutions that will help reduce the impact of disasters. We aim to help state and local governments, community organisations, and educational institutions better prepare for natural and man-made disasters by reducing the impact these might have on their critical IT systems, keeping data safely backed-up and secure, and readily accessible when needed.

That’s why AWS Project Resilience, is now available to our Australian and New Zealand communities, customers, and partners. Part of our global AWS disaster recovery program, AWS Project Resilience supports organisations, such as those on the front lines including police, fire, and emergency responders, that play a critical role in ensuring their community’s resilience, by helping them develop and manage the technology-based aspects of disaster preparedness.

One of the most critical tasks during a disaster is to ensure that data regarding people, assets, and services remains safe and accessible, even when it is under threat. Data can play a vital role in coordinating relief efforts, especially when it relates to the locations of people in danger, or to assets that might be used in disaster response. For example, data can be used to model the progress of fire fronts and predict the location of hotspots, or to model the impact of a flooding river. Project Resilience offers eligible local government, education, and small and medium community organisations up to USD$5,000 in AWS credits, which can be used to offset the cost of storing their data safely and securely on AWS. This means that even if computing equipment, such as laptops and servers, are damaged in a disaster, their critical data is still securely stored in the AWS Cloud, and can be easily accessed by them at any time.

It’s vital that this data remains safe, as it is often during times of crisis when it’s most needed. AWS can help organisations avoid data loss due to damaged equipment, support spikes in traffic to their websites and calls to their contact centres leading up to and during events, and analyse data to improve early warning systems and damage assessments.

Eligible existing AWS customers can also submit a request to offset costs incurred when using our CloudEndure disaster recovery service, which enables them to cost-effectively back up their software applications into our cloud. This helps organisations to get going again quickly using new computing equipment if their old devices have been damaged. And they can use this funding to cover the costs of using their existing backup service provider.

AWS Partners innovate to help governments prepare for disaster season

Previously, there was no easy way for organizations to find businesses that offer specialised services tailored to meet the mission-critical needs of responding to and managing public safety emergencies and large-scale disasters.

In 2019, we introduced the AWS Public Safety and Disaster Response Competency, which allows our customers to identify AWS Consulting Partners with proven success in helping businesses implement secure, reliable, cloud-enabled solutions that enhance public safety and disaster response capabilities in the following areas. These Competency Partners build and implement technology solutions that enable emergency management preparation, response, and recovery efforts to support mission-critical decisions supporting safer and more resilient communities.

For example, Australian startup Whispir has developed a cloud-based communications platform, built on AWS technology, that brings all communications such as email, text messaging, and web chat, together in one easily accessible place. Whispir’s platform is being used by the Western Australian Department of Fire and Emergency Services for its Emergency WA website, where it has increased the efficiency of incident and warning notifications to the media and residents in Western Australia.

AWS Partner Arq Group, has been working with the NSW Rural Bushfire Service since 2015. This collaboration led to the creation of the Fires Near Me app which allows people to set watch zones and receive alerts about fires in those areas. The app has been downloaded more than 3,000,000 times and has pushed 12,000,000 notifications to Australians, warning of fire conditions and total fire ban areas.

Supporting our communities

AWS Project Resilience extends our ongoing commitment to our customers, partners, and communities in need, a commitment which has seen Amazon’s unique logistics capabilities and AWS’s innovative technologies used to help Australian organisations on the front line of relief efforts. During the 2019-20 Australian bushfire season, Amazon contributed to national community efforts through organisations including the Australian Red Cross, the Salvation Army Australia, WIRES, and rural and country fire services. Amazon customers were able to donate items selected from the wish list of the volunteer-based organisation BlazeAid, including water, food, safety clothing, building materials, and more. You can read more about our support here.

We are obsessed with meeting the expectations of our customers, and we know that improving disaster resilience is a high priority for them and the broader community. By taking immediate action through AWS Project Resilience, we can have an impact today that helps communities better respond to disasters, while we continue creating and implementing long-term solutions.

To learn more and apply to the program, visit the AWS Project Resilience page.