clouds and data (vectorfusionart/

COVID researchers can apply for free cloud services

Amazon Web Services announced the AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative, a  $20 million investment  "to accelerate diagnostic research, innovation, and development to speed our collective understanding and detection of COVID-19.”

The AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative will be open to accredited research institutions and private companies around the world who are using AWS “to support research-oriented workloads for the development of point-of-care diagnostics (testing that can be done at home or at a clinic with same-day results),” Teresa Carlson, AWS vice president of worldwide public sector, wrote on an Amazon blog.

Funding will be provided through a combination of AWS in-kind credits and technical support to assist customers’ research teams in leveraging the cloud to tackle this challenge. The program already has 35 participants at launch, according to AWS, ranging from large research bodies to startups.

More information about the program can be found here.

Rescale, in cooperation with Google and Microsoft, will offer no-cost, high-performance cloud computing resources for those working to develop test kits and vaccines for COVID-19. 

The company’s Tech Against COVID program aims to make it easier for researchers to get use cases and workflows enabled on the cloud by removing technical barriers and cost limitations. It is providing access to its cloud HPC platform and securing several million dollars’ worth of donated compute credits. It has also created an internal response team to accelerate the deployment of these resources around the world.

Researchers can use Rescale's platform, combined with Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure resources, to model outbreak scenarios, speed development of test kits, identify genetic variants that hinder or enable the progression of COVID-19 and accelerate development of a vaccine.  

Researchers can apply for cloud resources here.

Enigma, a data and technology company that works with vast collections of public and proprietary data, is offering free, 12-month access to coronavirus outbreak data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

Available as a .csv file from the AWS Marketplace, the global coronavirus data includes daily outbreak updates from more than a dozen international sources on the number and location of confirmed cases, deaths and recoveries. The outbreak information can be combined with economic data to map the virus’ spread using time-series data, inform supply chain planning and operations and help measure and predict the impact on businesses, markets, trading and GDP.

Microsoft is offering its Azure-based Healthcare Bot to help hospitals and public health officials screen patients with flu-like symptoms in an effort to control unnecessary access to scare medical resources.

The scalable public cloud service allows organizations to build artificial intelligence-powered bots for websites or applications. It draws on official COVID-19 information and offers users a natural conversation-like experience.  Microsoft also offers templates covering assessment, triage, frequently asked questions and worldwide metrics so organizations can customize the bot to fit their needs.

The Healthcare Bot has been deployed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help site visitors assess their symptoms and risk factors. The CDC’s Coronavirus Self Checker nicknamed Clara asks users a series of questions related to the patient’s age, location and symptoms and advises what kind of medical attention they should seek.

The service is free for organizations sending fewer than 3,000 messages a month, with prices scaling based on the number of messages sent and the delivery speed. 

About the Author

Susan Miller is executive editor at GCN.

Over a career spent in tech media, Miller has worked in editorial, print production and online, starting on the copy desk at IDG’s ComputerWorld, moving to print production for Federal Computer Week and later helping launch websites and email newsletter delivery for FCW. After a turn at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology, where she worked to promote technology-based economic development, she rejoined what was to become 1105 Media in 2004, eventually managing content and production for all the company's government-focused websites. Miller shifted back to editorial in 2012, when she began working with GCN.

Miller has a BA and MA from West Chester University and did Ph.D. work in English at the University of Delaware.

Connect with Susan at [email protected] or @sjaymiller.


  • Records management: Look beyond the NARA mandates

    Pandemic tests electronic records management

    Between the rush enable more virtual collaboration, stalled digitization of archived records and managing records that reside in datasets, records management executives are sorting through new challenges.

  • boy learning at home (Travelpixs/

    Tucson’s community wireless bridges the digital divide

    The city built cell sites at government-owned facilities such as fire departments and libraries that were already connected to Tucson’s existing fiber backbone.

Stay Connected