The global healthcare pandemic has been like nothing many of us in Europe have ever known. During this time, many organizations have been contemplating their role in the COVID-19 crisis, and how they can best serve their communities. I can tell you it has been no different for us at Amazon Web Services (AWS). We are focused on where we can make the biggest difference, to help the global communities in which we all live and work. This is why today we are announcing that the AWS Europe (Milan) Region is now open. The opening of the AWS (Milan) Region demonstrates our ongoing commitment to the people of Italy and the long-term potential we believe there is in the country.

AWS Regions are composed of Availability Zones, which each comprise of one or more data centers and are located in separate and distinct geographic locations with enough distance to significantly reduce the risk of a single event impacting business continuity, yet near enough to provide low latency for high availability applications. Each Availability Zone has independent power, cooling, and physical security and is connected via redundant, ultra-low-latency networking. AWS customers focused on high availability can design their applications to run in multiple Availability Zones to achieve even greater fault-tolerance. AWS infrastructure regions meet the highest levels of security, compliance, and data protection and, with the new region, local customers with data residency requirements to store their content in Italy, can do so with the assurance that they retain complete ownership of their data and it will not move unless they choose to move it. This region is the latest in a long list of investments we have made in Italy.

AWS first established a presence in Italy in 2012, with the launch of an AWS Edge location in Milan. This was followed by an AWS office in the city in 2014 and another one in Rome in 2016, with significant and growing teams of account managers, business development managers, customer services representatives, partner managers, professional services consultants, solutions architects, technical account managers, and many more to help customers of all sizes as they move to the cloud. Also in 2016, AWS acquired Asti-based company NICE Software, a leading provider of software and services for high performance and technical computing, located in Piedmont. In 2017, a second Edge location was opened in Palermo with an AWS Direct Connect endpoint launched in Milan in 2019, further helping customers establish a dedicated network connection from their premises to AWS. Later in 2019, AWS launched two additional Edge locations in Milan along with one in Rome to support customer demand. These investments are in addition to the thousands of permanent jobs and over €4 billion of investment from Amazon, since 2010.

Now, more than ever, we are seeing customers use efficient and secure cloud computing infrastructure to make a meaningful impact on lives around the world. In Italy, many organizations are leveraging AWS to tackle the challenges brought on by the pandemic, whether it is to empower scientific research, facilitate remote working and remote learning, or providing new services to answer the emergency at hand. For example, in scientific research, Expert System, an Italian AWS Partner Network (APN) Independent Software Vendor (ISV), has built their Clinical Research Platform on AWS. This platform aggregates information from various trusted sources of scientific content and news releases, providing scientists working in biomedical research across the globe with an efficient, one-stop shop where they can discover the latest insights to drive their research. In addition to research, there are thousands of education companies and institutes that have rapidly set up secure, scalable remote learning solutions so millions of students continue to get the education they deserve. One example is bSmart Labs, an Italian digital education ISV that has used the Amazon Chime Software Development Kit (SDK) to quickly add video calling capabilities to their bSmart Classroom remote learning application, delivering real-time communication functionality to 560,000 bSmart Classroom teachers and students during this period.

With the lockdown restrictions across Italy, the sharing of information from local public administrations, and the ability to quickly answer citizens’ questions has become a vital public service. One of the best examples has been the work of Comune di Codogno, an Italian municipality in Lombardy. Using Amazon Connect, the municipality built a call center in less than a week to route calls directly to municipality staff, helping to quickly answer citizens’ questions on COVID-19, at a time when speed is critical. Another example, critical to the contagion management efforts, has been providing people across Italy with facemasks. In this case, Italian textile manufacturer Miroglio Group has changed the production chain of one of their factories in Alba, northwest Italy, from producing textile for garments to producing washable, cotton and elastane masks. With their staff in confinement at home, Miroglio, was able to coordinate this change of production remotely thanks to the cloud. Another example of how Italians are fighting back is COD19.it, an application created by Gianvincenzo Zuccotti, Principal of Medicine of the Milan State University, and developed by APN Partner Link Up. The application allows frontline staff to get in contact, via phone, with positive, and suspected positive, Coronavirus patients who have been discharged from hospital. This allows medical staff to check the discharged patient’s health status, calling them twice a day, and giving them ongoing medical assistance, through constant remote monitoring and support, until they are certified as fully recovered.

These are just a small number of the ways customers in Italy have been using cloud technologies to aid their communities. Amazon Italy is also committing to the national effort by donating €3.5 Million to Italian Civil Protection and non-profit organizations to support the fight against COVID-19, across all of the Italian territories and communities in which Amazon employees live and work. We have been impressed by how our customers are innovating in the use of technology, we’ve also been impressed by the solidarity and ingenuity displayed by the Italian people. From 3D printing respiratory valves for hospitals to the heroic efforts of all medical and first responder staff, the Italian people have been a beacon of resolve in this time.

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