Mar 23 2017

Cloud Computing Rises in the Ranks to Make Police Departments More Agile

As community policing and body cameras enter the realm of law enforcement, cloud computing is stepping in to make mountains of data more effective.

As precincts continue to collect, store and analyze data in the pursuit of driving more efficient policing practices alongside budget cuts, cloud computing presents a solution to store and transmit the ever-growing pool of information.

A survey by the International Association of Chiefs of Police found that while just 16 percent of law enforcement agencies currently deploy cloud computing for criminal justice data, 38 percent are planning to implement the solution in the near future.

Some of this growth is likely because law enforcement agencies are rapidly collecting data from police-worn body cameras. With 95 percent of large police departments committing to using body cameras, cloud computing can help law enforcement officers store and manage the video.

But as policy expands and the cloud becomes more trusted in the industry, police departments across the country are finding creative uses for the technology that allows them to banish disparate IT systems and store and manage data in one place.

Enabling Crowdsourced Policing in the Cloud

Kansas is in the midst of moving its 911 system to the cloud, which will help the state defend against the threat of disasters. It will also allow citizens to use multimedia, so they can send pictures and videos to dispatchers or send law enforcement text messages requesting assistance.

Several local police forces, including one in Keene, N.H., are already seeing success with similar projects that embrace community policing and use a cloud-based digital platform, known as LEEDIR, to manage floods of witness videos and photos around an incident. The portal was developed by Scott Edson, special operations division chief at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, “as a way for law enforcement agencies to get the storage capacity and secure portal they often don’t have during a major emergency,” PoliceOne reports.

“One of the main concerns is capturing this media while it’s there — before people delete it off their phones, before things expire,” Keene Police Detective Joel Chidester told PoliceOne. “That’s where the LEEDIR program really stood out — it gave us the ability to very quickly issue a release to the public to upload data and evidence. In many of these cases, these were felony level offenses — the statute of limitations would let us prosecute them for years to follow. It relieves some of that time pressure; once you have this evidence captured and secured, then you can go back and start building cases in the days or weeks to follow.”

With cloud storage, departments can manage large volumes of multimedia securely without overwhelming servers.

“It invokes a partnership with the community in terms of solving significant crimes. Some of the eyewitness photographs and videos — of the destruction of property, assaults — we would never have been able to obtain if they had not been brought forward by the public and turned over to us through a crowdsourced platform,” said Chidester.

California Revamps Protocols to Keep Up With Cloud Deployment

Meanwhile, the California Department of Justice (CalDOJ) has partnered with the private sector to help law enforcement agencies plug a gap in protocols that hinders police departments from deploying cloud solutions, Techwire reports.

While the state has a system in place that looks to ensure data is being securely shared across state, local and federal agencies, when the Chula Vista Police Department (CVPD) requested to deploy Microsoft Office 365 and Azure Cloud, the agency’s technology manager, Eric Woods, realized the protocol didn’t speak to requirements for the cloud. Moreover, the state’s telecommunications agency didn’t have a process in place to approve requests to deploy cloud services, which was hindering several neighboring police departments from deploying cloud solutions to create more agile IT environments.

Woods then began working with Microsoft to fill in the blanks and develop a protocol that would enable law enforcement to deploy cloud-based solutions. CalDOJ, Microsoft, and the CVPD collaborated to develop a security matrix around Microsoft Office 365 and the Azure Cloud, eventually pushing through procedures to ensure the technology’s safe deployment at police departments across the state.

“Getting this milestone completed is going to release a lot of pent up demand. Most of these agencies have already embraced the technology, but they now have an additional level of confidence that what they’re doing is right,” Stuart McKee, Microsoft’s chief technology officer of state and local government, who was heavily involved in the process, told Techwire.


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