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Minnesota Awarded for Leadership in Cloud-Based Innovation

Two Projects Recognized in the AWS City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge

12/5/2019 12:35:20 PM

A bright cloudy sky with a seal that reads: Winner 2019 AWS City on a Cloud.

December 5, 2019


Emily Shimkus

St. Paul, MN: Minnesota IT Services (MNIT) is excited to announce recognition of two projects for Amazon Web Services (AWS) 2019 City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge. Both projects were completed in partnership with Minnesota’s Department of Health. MNIT was listed as one of the winners in the “Constituent Services Award” for a Point of Dispensing (POD) Medical PreCheck and POD Locator Applications, and was named a finalist for the “Dream Big Award” for its planned use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies to scan documents for personally identifiable information (PII).

The City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge recognizes local and regional governments, private and public schools and districts, and organizations that serve the public sector as hubs of innovation. On December 4, the finalists and category winners were recognized during the AWS Worldwide Public Sector Breakfast.

“We are excited by the opportunities that cloud-based services can provide the state, and proud of our teams that are embracing the new technology to provide better service for Minnesota,” said MNIT Commissioner Tarek Tomes. “With the MDH applications serving as a model, we will continue to leverage innovative capabilities that cloud-based services provide.”

POD Medical PreCheck and POD Locator Apps

The Medical Precheck and POD Locator App prepare Minnesota for rapid responses to public health emergencies, where efficient distribution of medications to an exposed population, potentially a very large population, can save lives. During an emergency, Point of Dispensing (POD) sites allow for the rapid distribution of life saving medicine and treatments. The Medical PreCheck App ensures that users receive a safe medication with an online pre-screening form. The POD Locator finds the nearest point of distribution for medication, as well as public transportation and parking information. Without modern technology and these applications, dispensing rates for medicines and medical countermeasures would slow to a crawl, and Minnesotans would have a difficult time finding active dispensaries.

Hopefully this technology is never needed. But, if it is, cloud services ensure that the applications are available even if the number of Minnesotans using the POD Medical PreCheck and POD Locator applications increase from zero to thousands within minutes. Cloud-services also allow the application to be stored, ready to use, without provisioning additional hardware. The innovative applications provide significant value to the emergency response community, and allow for high levels of automation, reducing the potential for human error at a time when there could be significant strain on state systems. The Medical PreCheck and Locator Application also won a NASCIO award for its citizen service in October 2019.

Watch a video about the POD Medical PreCheck and POD Locator Apps

AI and Machine Learning

The second finalist for MNIT is currently in development at MDH where the team aspires to use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies to transform business processes currently reliant on manual review of unstructured data in separate documents. Leveraging cloud technology, MNIT will help MDH scan documents to protect personally identifiable information. The technology can also scan medical information included in investigations to extract targeted information. Another use is to search for patterns and trends suggesting over-administered medications, anomalous care-giver actions, or instances of preventable situations to alert programs or researchers when patterns start to form.

While the project is in development, the effects of this technology may be seen across Minnesota government, where AI and ML can help to reduce the time and resources spent reviewing, publishing, and storing many paper-based systems. MNIT is also able to keep the data that is reviewed by the AI on our local cloud services, not shared with AWS, in order to protect the data of private citizens.

Read the press release from Amazon Web Services’ website announcing the full list of winners.


About Minnesota IT Services

Minnesota IT Services, led by the state’s Chief Information Officer, is the Information Technology agency for Minnesota’s executive branch, providing enterprise and local IT services to over 70 agencies, boards and commissions. MNIT employs more than 2,000 people across 90 physical locations. Together, we build, maintain, and secure the State’s IT infrastructure, applications, projects and services. MNIT sets IT strategy, direction, policies and standards for enterprise IT leadership and planning. We also serve Minnesotans by connecting all 87 counties, 300 cities, and 200 public higher education campuses across the state on the MNET network. Through public-private partnerships, our team proactively protects the state’s information systems and the private data of 5.5 million Minnesotans.

Digital Government


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