Hurricane season 2023: Supporting hurricane response efforts with the cloud

by Amazon Web Services Public Sector Blog Team | on

While the 2023 hurricane season kicks off June 1, the reality is that Amazon Web Services (Amazon Web Services) is working to help organizations and communities respond to hurricanes long before a storm forms.

Innovating in advance

Throughout the year, Amazon Web Services Disaster Response develops and tests new innovations that utilize cloud technology to enable more efficient disaster response capabilities for our customers and relief organizations. During field test exercises, the team brings together relief organizations and nonprofits to help recreate real-world response scenarios and apply cloud technology to problems in the field by developing proofs-of-concepts, experimenting, and refining solutions. These exercises take place on a 1,000 acre plot in Northern Virginia, where the team is able to recreate harsh environments and low- or no-connectivity environments mimicking post-disaster environments.

As part of this effort, the team has customized Amazon Web Services Disaster Response vehicles, enabled with technology including Amazon Web Services Snowball Edge devices and satellite communications. Snowball Edge devices are powerful and portable cloud computing devices designed for rugged deployments in the harshest physical environments. Having cloud technology packaged in a simple to deploy, ruggedized vehicle means the team is able to transport all the technology they need, and power it directly in remote locations from the vehicle in order to speedily support response efforts.

A customized AWS Disaster Response Jeep in a field test exercise.

Pictured: A customized Amazon Web Services Disaster Response Jeep in a field test exercise.

Responding in real-time

Cloud technology is making it simpler for organizations to provide help to affected communities faster and more effectively. Specifically, Amazon Web Services is using technology to help relief organizations with mapping and damage assessment of hard-hit areas, re-establishing internet connectivity, increasing response capacity with cloud contact center support, providing compute-intensive analyses in disconnected environments, and more.

In September of 2022, when Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida, Amazon Web Services Disaster Response worked with Help.NGO and Information Technology Disaster Resource Center , to assist with response operations across a variety of functions including building a common operating picture—a single source of information sourced from disparate teams—in the Amazon Web Services Cloud, mapping and assessing damage at the site, and establishing interim connectivity for community hubs like firehouses and distribution sites. These activities provided much needed help for first responders, relief organizations, and impacted individuals who rely on these centers for support.

Enabling employees in our commitment to communities

As part of ongoing efforts to expand support in the wake of disasters, Amazon Web Services utilizes its Amazon Web Services Disaster Response Action Team (DRT) volunteer program to serve as an extension of its core Disaster Response team. Volunteers across the company have logged over 2,700 hours since 2021 supporting 14 disasters and humanitarian events.

Learn more about how Amazon Web Services Disaster Response supports communities .

Read more about Amazon Web Services for disaster response:

  • How Amazon Web Services is supporting nonprofits, governments, and communities impacted by Hurricane Ian
  • Building resilience: Using technology to prepare for, respond to, and recover from the unexpected
  • How Livingston Parish prepares for natural disasters by improving resiliency in the cloud
  • Create a common operating picture for search and rescue at the edge with Amazon Web Services
  • Open data helps recovery in the aftermath of devastating weather events

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