Technology-driven solutions have been an important part of policy tools aimed at achieving societal progress in India. While the Indian government has been actively leveraging technology-driven solutions to drive impact, it has time and again collaborated with private players to ramp up the reach of its initiatives and guide social change.
The NITI Aayog Cloud Innovation Centre (CIC) is a joint initiative between the Indian government’s policy think tank NITI Aayog and AWS that will address societal challenges through innovation powered by AWS’ technical expertise.
The centre is a part of AWS’ Cloud Innovation Centre global programme. It is one of the CICs that have been launched by AWS in conjunction with public sector organisations and universities in various countries like the US, Australia, Germany, France and Bahrain. However, it is the first CIC to be established by AWS in partnership with a government agency.
The NITI Aayog CIC invites non-profit organizations, startups, researchers, educational institutions and government bodies to collaborate on solutions that can tackle social challenges while leveraging technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics and blockchain with AWS’ help.
Each CIC is supervised by a ‘CIC sponsor’, like the NITI Aayog in India’s case, while the organisations partnering with CICs are referred to as ‘challenge sponsors’. The CIC sponsors select challenges, supply subject matter experts and look after the overall management. Meanwhile, AWS assists the challenge sponsors by helping them test new ideas by developing prototypes on AWS Cloud and training them in using leading technologies to bring those ideas to life.
These collaborations feature a combination of Amazon’s ‘Working Backwards’ process and solution workshops, AWS’ expertise in cloud computing and promotional credits for prototyping.
The public-private programme has opened the doors for several collaborations that enable multiple stakeholders to work together to address social challenges worldwide.
For instance, the University of British Columbia (UBC) Community Health and Wellbeing CIC is working on a beta model to identify new species of coronavirus via an analysis of public sequencing data. On the other hand, the University of Swinburne Data for Social Good CIC is working on a tool to keep public health authorities informed about the current status and future developments related to COVID-19.
In the US, the Arizona State University (ASU) Smart City CIC is exploring solutions that can leverage data and improve analytics to help local authorities make more informed decisions while investing in public transportation infrastructure.
Closer home, the University of Bahrain CIC is enabling people with hearing impairments to stay updated with the daily news with ‘VoiceMate’—an AI-powered digital sign language translation system.
These CICs have been helpful in accelerating the pace of societal innovation while lowering the cost of experimentation with AWS technology and building solutions that can be scaled quickly.
Ben Butler, Global Lead for CICs at AWS, says, “We invite public sector organizations in India to submit real-world challenges to the NITI Aayog CIC. We will combine public sector knowledge of the community and use AWS technologies to address selected challenges. We will also share the prototypes and documentation that we create as open source with other communities facing similar challenges.”
The NITI Aayog CIC is focusing on accelerating innovation to fuel social changes in healthcare, agriculture, skilling and inclusion. With a mission to encourage continuous innovation and experimentation for social good, the NITI Aayog CIC is helping in nurturing an ecosystem where both public and private institutions capitalize on their strengths to transform citizen services.
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