European Commission uses AWS to respond to COVID-19


The European Commission is the executive arm of the European Union (EU), responsible for day-to-day affairs within the EU.

The Commission has introduced a ‘cloud-first’ policy for its IT systems in recent years to accelerate innovation and deliver more digital services to better serve EU citizens.

Having this kind of robust technology, backed by strong technology partners, is more important than ever to the EC during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Throughout the crisis, the Commission has used Amazon Web Services (AWS) technology to ensure the continuity of some of its services, such as providing citizens with secure access to vital information.

Accelerate digital strategy

Before the COVID-19 crisis started, the Commission already had one digital strategy adopted to make everyday work faster and more efficient.

The pandemic has demonstrated the value of this strategy, emphasizing the importance of preparation and flexibility in a rapidly evolving situation. It has also accelerated the need for the use of digital processes, such as e-signatures, in the work of the Commission.

Thanks to the cloud, the EC was able to quickly implement most of these processes throughout the organization. The existing digital and cloud strategy enabled the Commission to respond in a timely manner to the challenges of the pandemic while at the same time continuing the digital transformation through resilient and robust IT systems.

Making home working possible for developers

The Commission has more than 32,000 employees, including more than 3,000 developers. When the COVID-19 crisis started, it only took a few days for many of them to work remotely.

In order to ensure continuity for the developers responsible for developing and maintaining digital business solutions in areas such as business decision-making, document management, financial management, market research and support services to citizens and businesses in the EU, the Commission has decided to launch the initiative ‘ Service for Developers’.

Service for Developers is a virtual desktop service that allows developers to work from home in the cloud to build and maintain applications. The first version of this “work from home” developer package is built on AWS to simplify desktop delivery and ensure data security.

By having access to this service, Commission developers can use standalone workstations in a secure and flexible environment from their home.

Get virtual millions

In May, the EC organized the ‘Coronavirus Global Response Pledging Conference’. A livestream event to raise a € 7.5 billion target to kick-start a global response to the development and universal deployment of coronavirus diagnostics, treatments and vaccines. Since the event, the Commission has registered € 9.8 billion in pledges; this is more than the original target of € 7.5 billion.

AWS provided live assistance to the event, in support of the other Commission services, but also strengthened security and enabled the growing number of viewers to watch live.

On June 27, the Commission organized together with the international advocacy organization Global Citizen a subsequent ‘Global Pledging Summit’. Both events contributed to raising € 15.9 billion to fight the coronavirus and ensure global recovery.

Hacking the crisis

The Commission has also brought together the tech community to find solutions to COVID-19 and its consequences.

The EC organized the #EUvsVirus hackathon challenge; a hackathon and subsequent matchathon event where the hackathon finalists were matched with a range of partners to help develop their ideas.

During the hackathon, more than 21,000 participants in 3,500 teams presented ideas to an expert jury composed of academics, governments, business partners and venture capitalists. The jury selected 120 projects to advance to the matchathon, which the Commission said became the largest matchmaking exercise ever in the world with 1,500 curated meetings and more than 2,000 new partnerships.

AWS supported both events and now helps all 120 selected projects to realize their ideas through the AWS Activate-programma, which is designed to help startups build their businesses.

Read more about how AWS supports people and organizations in their response to COVID-19.

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