AWS and EkStep Collaborate to Foster and Accelerate Innovation in Digital Public Infrastructure

Amazon Web Services (AWS) India announced that it is collaborating with EkStep Foundation (EkStep), a non-profit organisation in India focused on catalysing societal transformation. Together, the two organisations have established a Joint Innovation Center (JIC) to help foster the development of innovative digital solutions for public service delivery. This joint effort will focus on enabling and accelerating the creation of digital public goods (DPGs) and digital public infrastructures[2] (DPIs). It aims to support both public sector and commercial institutions in building and harnessing digital solutions for population-scale use while helping governments build socially and digitally inclusive economies.

The JIC is a customer-centric program that is founded on Amazon’s culture of innovation philosophy, which encourages builders to work backwards from end-customer needs, use data to drive decision making, and adopt an iterative approach to solution development for successful outcomes.

According to the Nasscom-Arthur D. Little report Digital Public Infrastructure of India – Accelerating India’s Digital Inclusion, the economic value addition from DPIs to India’s GDP has the potential to grow 3x – from 0.9% in 2022 to 2.9 – 4.2% by 2030. The JIC by AWS and EkStep will be a mechanism to bring together key stakeholders who are committed to driving digital cooperation for a more equitable and sustainable world. These stakeholders include owners and developers of DPGs/ DPIs; enablers like startups, independent software vendors (ISVs), and system integrators (SIs); and adopters/ implementers like governments, multilateral organisations, and private sector entities. The JIC will promote collaboration among these stakeholders to develop DPGs and DPIs for sectors such as education, agriculture, finance, healthcare, and climate change, and help accelerate societal transformation.

The JIC will focus on supporting startups, ISVs, and SIs to leverage the power of technologies such as cloud computing, generative artificial intelligence (AI), and analytics from AWS; help them imagine and invent new use cases for DPGs and DPIs, incubate them, and enhance existing ones; and offer comprehensive starter kits for states and countries interested in such solutions. To enable ease-of-use and faster adoption, the DPGs and DPIs will be packaged for one-click deployment via the AWS Partner Network (APN), which features more than 130,000 partners from more than 200 countries. AWS will explore featuring the DPGs on AWS Marketplace, providing a global channel to showcase and distribute the solutions. AWS will further explore featuring the DPGs and DPIs on the Open Government Solutions Catalog, which provides government organisations with valuable resources such as digital solutions, policies, and standards, enabling them to explore and reuse proven approaches to digital transformation.

“Governments and organisations serving the public at large are increasingly seeing how DPIs using cloud computing and open-source solutions can provide scalable, secure, agile, and efficient services to people, accelerating public service transformation programs”, said Shalini Kapoor, Director and Chief Technologist, AWS India Private Limited. “Building newer DPGs and DPIs requires collective focus from stakeholders on solving problems of scale, and we are pleased to have EkStep’s visionary thinking and commitment in this initiative. The two organisations share a belief that technology should cut across barriers and enable the creation of a more equitable and inclusive society.”

EkStep Foundation, a philanthropic initiative founded by Nandan Nilekani, Rohini Nilekani, and Shankar Maruwada, aims to utilise technology to build population scale public goods, empower communities, and orchestrate sharing of resources, enabling civil society, governments, and the private sector to make meaningful decisions for societal benefits. A prime example of this approach is EkStep’s Sunbird, an open-source, modular, and configurable digital infrastructure that can help organisations scale the delivery of resources to users. Sunbird can be applied for a variety of applications such as capacity building and professional development in education, and credentialing, accreditation, and capturing health records in healthcare. It can be used to record crop quality, standards, soil quality, and inventory, in agriculture; supporting financial inclusion by capturing people’s income certificates and credit worthiness; and driving climate-positive actions by recording carbon credits and sustainability scores for products and organisations.

“EkStep is committed to accelerating inclusive innovation that can address profound challenges and drive positive change on a national level,” said Shankar Maruwada, Co-founder and CEO, EkStep Foundation. “The establishment of a Joint Innovation Center with AWS marks a significant leap towards the adoption and scaling of India’s Digital Public Infrastructure with the extensive reach and expertise of AWS’s Partner Network. It truly takes a collaborative effort to come together with deep conviction to build and implement digital solutions at population-scale, especially in the era of AI . We look forward to delivering on this vision by building on AWS’s proven global abilities of scale, resilience, and security, and the innovation community.”

The JIC further propels the scope for innovation and driving scalable impact from India, where a wide range of open-source based digital solutions have been pioneered to benefit citizens at scale. Examples include Modular Open Source Identity Platform (MOSIP), a global DPG developed for issuing trusted foundational identifications, currently at different stages of adoption in 17 countries serving more than 110 million people, where MOSIP’s development and pilot environments use AWS for rapid deployment and scale. Another example is Namma Yatri, a popular autorickshaw booking application built on the Beckn protocol, which enables the creation of open, peer-to-peer decentralized networks for pan-sector economic transactions. Namma Yatri is committed to the vision of open mobility; building on AWS has helped Namma Yatri to scale the application to serve 5 million commuters across eight cities in six months, and generate INR 4.5 billion as commission-free earnings to drivers.

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