Iowa City wins $25,000 Amazon award for its Data-Driven Justice Initiative

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Iowa City Hall — photo by Zak Neumann

Iowa City will receive $25,000 worth of cloud services for its Data-Driven Justice Initiative that works to keep individuals dealing with mental illness and substance abuse issues out of jail. The award is part of Amazon Web Services’ City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge.

The initiative was initially launched by the Obama administration with various states, counties and cities signing on. It uses data to identify low-level offenders who would benefit from a pre-jail diversion program and aims to promote proactive mental health and substance abuse treatment, with a goal of reducing repeat offenses and decreasing incarceration and emergency medical service costs.

“We have anxiously been awaiting Amazon’s announcement after being named a top five finalist and we are thrilled,” Iowa City Police Chief Jody Matherly said in a press release. “This award from Amazon will help give us the tools we need to identify those who have complex needs and help keep them out of jail and the ER.”

Iowa City Police Officer David Schwindt accepted the award on behalf of the city during the Amazon Web Services Public Sector Summit in Washington D.C. The city is working with Johnson County and Shelter House on the initiative.

Iowa City was one of two winners in the mid-sized category of the Dream Big Award, which was open to cities and school districts. Marmion Academy in Illinois was the other winner in the category. Louisville Metro Government and Tulsa Public Schools received the Dream Big Award in the category for large cities and schools districts.

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