PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has built a digital architecture hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS) to help conduct this year’s Australian census.
The plan to build a new digital service was in response to the 2016 census’ eCensus infrastructure experiencing a series of denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, which caused the Australian Bureau of Statistics to temporarily shut down access to the site.
Hoping to avoid a repeat of the incident, the ABS tapped PwC Australia to build a census digital service (CDS) entirely on the cloud, which, according to AWS, would handle the traffic generated by millions of users.
The service constituted of an online form, website and online assistance to help people complete the census.
PwC and ABS used AWS services that had been assessed at PROTECTED, the highest level of security compliance for public cloud-based systems under the Australian government’s Infosec Registered Assessor Program (IRAP).
According to AWS, this would prevent sophisticated DDoS attacks, while a web gateway was developed to ensure each census form was validated before being passed along to the ABS’s processing environment.
ABS, AWS, and PwC also conducted extensive DDoS tests, which were equivalent to being in the top 1 per cent of DDoS attacks observed by AWS globally.
ABS also worked with AWS to build a cloud-based contact centre, which enabled Australians to automatically request paper forms.
People who called were prompted by an automated agent to enter a few details like their census ID number and their postcode to be verified, meaning up to 394,000 people did not have to call the staff in the census contact centre to request a paper form.
“The census digital service achieved high levels of security, reliability and scale thanks to the serverless architecture built on AWS,” said Steve Hamilton, chief information officer at ABS.
“The most important benefit of working with AWS is that ABS does not have to worry about building and operating the underlying infrastructure and ABS can focus on delivering a simple and easy experience for the people of Australia.”
PwC Australia was first selected to deliver the ABS to deliver the 2021 census digital service in 2019 following a request for tender published by the ABS in August 2018.