Cloud Helps Canadian Customers During Covid-19 Pandemic

Cloud Helps Canadian Customers During Covid-19 Pandemic

From coast to coast, we are hearing from customers just how important the cloud has been to them as they try to get staff online, develop new applications quickly, or scale to meet the burgeoning demand. We’ve been collecting some stories from across the country and will continue to share more highlights from our customers.

Government:

The Canadian Digital Service (CDS), an in-house digital delivery unit in the Government of Canada, works to improve the delivery of government services to Canadians and during the COVID-19 pandemic, has needed to quickly scale its Notify system. That system allows government departments to send important notifications directly to Canadians. The system was operating at a level that was optimized to reach hundreds of thousands Canadians but now, with the help of the AWS Canada team, that system can send 10 million messages per day, with the potential for more.

Canada’s Ontario Health (OTN) is one of the world’s largest virtual care networks, and provider of many different  virtual care programs for patients in locations throughout Ontario. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ontario Health (OTN) saw more than 1,900 concurrent virtual visits during peak hours, experienced five times the video volumes, completed 350,000 virtual visits between March 1 and April 22, and increased by ten times the daily average of Direct-to-Patient video visits. Ontario Health (OTN) has been able to scale on AWS to meet the demand by rapidly adding Amazon EC2 instances.

As it becomes increasingly important to provide Canadians with up-to-the minute information on COVID-19, several governments rely on the AWS Cloud to power its websites, including Canada.ca, Ontario.ca, and Quebec.ca.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations across all sectors have continuously adapted their health and safety programs as evidence-based practices evolve. In Ontario, the Public Services Health & Safety Association (PSHSA) saw website chat volumes rapidly triple as public sector organizations sought out the latest guidance. PSHSA worked with Qalius—an Amazon Web Services (AWS) Partner Network (APN) Advanced Consulting Partner specializing in serverless applications on AWS—to implement an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot. Qalius built the chatbot with Amazon Lex and integrated it with on-premises PSHSA systems. The chatbot answers questions, directs website visitors to information on the website, and manages updates for virtual training registrations. By automatically resolving one out of every three enquiries, the chatbot allows PSHSA’s Customer Experience team to focus on high-priority requests.

Education:

Athabasca University (AU) is Canada’s online research university where most of the staff already work remotely. As the realities of Work From Home hit with COVID-19, AU had to act quickly to get about 180 staff across Alberta who only had office desktops a way to connect from home. IT staff wiped laptops that weren’t being used, installed a new operating system, and loaded them with Amazon WorkSpaces.  Within a few days, all these staff could now work remotely for the first time.

D2L uses technology to change the way millions of people learn online and in the classroom. Used globally by customers in K-12, higher education, healthcare, government and within the corporate sector, the company operates Brightspace, an accessible, online learning platform designed to engage and motivate learners. D2L completed an all-in migration to Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2019 and now uses more than 60 AWS services to power its product suite. The migration has allowed the company to better scale its services for peak periods, and to accommodate new users without worrying about infrastructure, as well as add new data analytics features. Going all-in on AWS placed D2L in a strong position at the breakout of the COVID-19 pandemic and a shift to virtual learning globally. It managed to maintain 99.999% uptime, while dealing with a seven-fold increase in logins, and 25 times the amount of demand for areas such as virtual classrooms.

Humber College Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning (Humber), Canada's largest college, jumped into action quickly to get students online—and with access to the applications they need—during COVID-19. With the help of AWS Premier Partner Onica, a Rackspace Company, Humber is making it possible for students to access software that is typically only found on campus in computer labs available on any device from anywhere in the world.  Within a few days, Onica and Humber were able to design, build, and test a production solution on AWS. Using Amazon AppStream, as many as 450 applications will be rolled out so that students may continue their studies remotely, with the most critical titles taking just days to set up.

Healthcare Technology:

We are supporting Aetonix, which provides Remote Patient Monitoring and supports RPM devices (oxygen monitoring, ear temperature, blood pressure, weight, glucose level, steps count, and falls detection). When COVID-19 started to become prominent, Aetonix was approached by its clients (Hospitals, clinics) to help. The staff focused on developing products for COVID-19, on-boarding clients or communicating the urgency. Aetonix made it extremely simple to on-board patients and staff, and the first two months of the service were free in an effort to flatten the curve. You can visit their COVID-19 Canada page for more information. Aetonix also relied on AWS to deploy a platform overseas that would allow close relatives to connect with loved ones in ICU units at a time when hospital visits were not authorized. Aetonix’s technology is now present in 175 hospitals in the United Kingdom.

Babylon by TELUS Health is helping hundreds of thousands of Canadians access local family doctors on their smartphones. Based on more than 500 million streams of real health data, they can use the app’s AI-powered Symptom Checker to get information about their health concerns and chat in real-time via virtual video with a locally licensed physician. Patients can access doctor consultation notes and video recordings for quick reference and/or sharing with their own family physician, while easily managing prescription details and preferred pharmacy locations for pick-ups. Online appointment bookings, referrals for diagnostic tests or specialist appointments are also available all through the app. Available in BC, AB and ON, the service runs on the AWS Cloud leveraging the AWS Canada (Central) Region to keep all patient data in Canada.

Nursing and seniors homes in Quebec have been fraught with COVID-19 outbreaks. To become part of the solution, Montreal-based startup BrainBox AI decided to repurpose its HVAC technology. Airborne viruses, such as COVID-19, can be recirculated non-deliberately throughout building HVAC systems. To help proactively mitigate the potential spread of pathogens and improve air quality in buildings, BrainBox AI offered all commercial buildings free access to its Airborne Virus Mitigation Program, including seniors’ homes. The smart HVAC system runs on AWS, and uses a wide variety of services like Amazon Aurora and some AWS ML services to help the devices keep the air fresh. 

BookJane is a SaaS technology platform — used by more than 700 long term and retirement facilities across North America — which allows these facilities to mobilize their internal workforce and external staff, on-demand. BookJane sought out the help of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and AWS Premier Partner Onica when staffing challenges grew across Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. At a time when communication between personnel is critical to the delivery of care, BookJane mobilized 2,000 doctors and tens of thousands of healthcare works across Ontario in March and relied on AWS autoscaling services so caregivers could stay online, connected, and ensure the right care was dispensed to those in need. Through its J360 Platform, BookJane’s customers experienced minimal staffing shortages and were able to reduce the need for third-party agencies. Given the nature of health information, BookJane also uses Amazon Macie to protect sensitive data running on the AWS Canada (Central) Region.

Montreal-based Dialogue is Canadian leader in virtual healthcare and an early AWS adopter. With COVID-19, the volume of people in need of medical assistance grew every day while healthcare phone lines were jammed or down. In order to help with the increased load, Dialogue quickly put together a simple information chatbot (Chloe) that they’re now extending with Q&A capabilities – all running in the AWS Cloud.

Empego offers a seamless triage experience to modernize and optimize the way healthcare is delivered. As a startup in the healthcare sector, AWS has helped Empego quickly scale its infrastructure needs while keeping costs low. At the very beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, Empego developed and delivered a free online triage tool to healthcare professionals and the Quebec population. The tool was used more than 300,000 times and greatly contributed in relieving the government hotlines, detecting tens of thousands of high risk cases, and assisting doctors, nurses and pharmacists during consultations with patients.

Calgary-based ICE Health Systems built its electronic health records (EHR) service on AWS and has involved it to include a telehealth component. COVID-19 has spiked demand for the service globally, including in Canada but also in the U.S. and across the world in India. ICE runs all-in on AWS and has seen growing hours of secure video sessions in March on all devices and connections.

Regina-based startup Lumeca is helping get Saskatchewan residents connected to doctors via an app. Twenty physicians are now virtual doctors talking to patients across the province to help ease the burden on traditional healthcare delivery services. Lumeca runs on AWS in the AWS Canada (Central) Region, and has already seen thousands of video users sign up in March. The Cowessess First Nation, located in rural Saskatchewan, was one of the first indigenous communities in the province to be able to rely on virtual COVID-19 screenings, and virtual general health consultations.

Medimap is Canada’s largest online and mobile real-time resource for same-day access to care and the back-end platform is by AWS. To support physicians during the COVID-19 outbreak and to ensure safe healthcare access for patients, Medimap has launched a new service that connects patients across B.C. with an available walk-in clinic doctor over secure video call. This service is free for B.C. patients with valid MSP coverage. With secure messaging, audio, and video available through the Medimap platform, doctors can provide a variety of services including COVID-19 advice and prescription refills.

To reduce the spread of COVID-19, mimik deployed a contagion positioning app to alert people who may have been in close proximity to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. They deliver these capabilities by leveraging edge computing on mobile devices to send exposure alerts to all devices that have been in their proximity & directs them to available resources for testing, preventive and curative care. The mimik platform utilizes several key services such as Amazon Kinesis Firehouse and Amazon DynamoDB‎.

Vancouver-based Theorem Synthetic Intelligence, a private enterprise software and IP company, answered a call by governments worldwide to make SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 research more readily available. As a public service, Theorem’s proprietary encoding algorithms and AI engines can now be applied against the entire PubMedarXivmedRxivWikipedia, and bioRxiv datasets. Global researchers can now search and rank using high-dimensional, language-agnostic exemplars and receive results within milliseconds. New corpora are being added, increasing the quality and relevance of insights available within and between datasets. Some of the High-Performance Computing (HPC) is running on AWS today. The resource is available at https://syint.io. Researchers seeking access and owners of research datasets requiring transcoding for inclusion are encouraged to contact Theorem directly at syint@thrm.io.

Thrive.Health, in partnership with the BC Ministry of Health, HealthLinkBC, and the BC Centre for Disease Control, developed an app to provide BC residents with resources and information on COVID-19. The app was entirely built on AWS in March and has seen over 140,000 users in its first week of being launched. It's currently the #1 health app in Canada on the Apple App Store and Google Play store. Thrive.Health also built and launched a Canada-wide app in partnership with the Government of Canada on April 1st, which is now live at https://ca.thrive.health. People across the country can access the app on any device and track their symptoms daily as a way to help inform the public health response to COVID-19. The app provides the latest updates from the government and public health, important stats, and personalized resources to support people through this pandemic.

Enterprises:

Pacific Blue Cross, British Columbia's #1 provider of health, dental and travel benefits, was on top of getting staff online during the COVID-19 pandemic as businesses across the province were asked to get employees to work from home. In just a few days, the IT teams used Amazon WorkSpaces to get hundreds of team members online quickly in critical groups such as the call centre and claims. Going from zero to nearly 600 WorkSpace seats was made easier as Pacific Blue Cross already had underlying infrastructure in the AWS Canada (Central) Region, and was able to leverage domain control and security policies in place on their tenant.

TC Energy was well poised to handle a remote worker situation in response to COVID-19. The Calgary-based energy company has nearly completed a comprehensive migration from its own data centers across North America over to AWS, which enabled it to pivot quickly and get staff online from home. It is using over 500 Amazon WorkSpaces seats today to keep everyone connected, and ensure that millions of people across North America are be able to continue to receive the energy they rely on every day.

Gaming:

Canadian Video Game Developer Mobovivo and its parent company, mobile game publisher, ePlay Digital is behind Howie Mandel’s Howie’s Games. Running on AWS, the games are driving attention towards Mandel’s charity that is providing masks, gloves, hazmat suits, and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to hospitals, care homes, and front line workers in North America and Europe through the Breakout the Masks initiative. You can check out the game here: www.howiesgames.com.

Retail:

The Quebec company, Cook It, who specializes in component cooking products, tripled the number of orders at the peak of the pandemic, when site visits increased by 231% and the company saw growth of 171% in new users. By relying on a combination of computing, customer engagement, database, management and networking services, Cook It is able to automate all of its logistics, from production to delivery. This is one of the reasons the company was able to meet the high demand and manage orders in just a few clicks.