A Seattle company is rolling out the latest application for Microsoft’s expanding cloud: storing the footage taken by police cameras.
Police departments have been taking video — think dashboard cams — for decades. But with the increasing push to record more of officers’ interactions with citizens, the volume of data is growing fast.
Vievu’s answer? Upload the footage to Microsoft’s servers.
Vievu said Tuesday that it has built software on Microsoft’s Azure platform that offers law enforcement agencies the ability to send footage from the company’s line of body and car-mounted cameras to Microsoft’s data centers.
“We’ve dealt with a lot of smaller- and mid-size departments that don’t have full-time IT staffs,” said Steve Ward, Vievu’s chief executive and a former member of the Seattle Police Department. “They’ve been asking us for years” for remote data storage that complies with federal guidelines. “But up until Microsoft Azure government [cloud], it didn’t exist.”
Microsoft in 2012 said it was building a product that would tie together its various cloud offerings, including Azure, its flagship cloud computing platform, in a way tailored to government customers. This summer, Microsoft offered government agencies and vendors the opportunity to try out Azure’s new government platform before its official debut in 2015, pledging to assist customers in complying with the alphabet soup of government data and privacy guidelines.
Azure government, Microsoft says, comes with such features as servers physically isolated from its other data centers, and provisions limiting data access to screened users.
Important for Vievu’s law enforcement clients is that Microsoft offers the ability to comply with government standards for data security such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Criminal Justice Information Services policies.
Ward founded Vievu in 2007 after a stint in marketing and sales with rival Taser International. Vievu employs about 10 people in its offices in Seattle’s Lower Queen Anne neighborhood, and another 10 in sales offices around the country.
Microsoft is hardly alone in courting government business for its cloud offerings: Amazon.com, Google, Salesforce.com and Oracle offer similar products.
Why? There’s a huge pile of cash at stake. The federal government spends more than $70 billion a year on information technology. Add state and local IT spending, and you get a combined figure of $130 billion a year, according to estimates from Deltek, a software company that focuses on government contracting.
A White House report encouraging government agencies to seek cost and efficiency savings by using cloud services estimated that perhaps a quarter of existing federal IT spending could be migrated to the cloud.
“There’s pent up demand,” said Rick Zak, a director with Microsoft’s U.S. state and local government team. “The idea of the cloud has been attractive for a long time.”
Holding government agencies back, Zak said, were worries about the compliance headaches of beaming data to third parties and a lack of suitable technology.
Vievu hopes offering software that taps into Microsoft’s network will help assuage some of those concerns, potentially convincing some of its 4,000 law enforcement clients, which include the police forces in Oakland, Calif, and Phoenix, to sign up.
“They love it,” Ward said of law enforcement officials’ reaction to the cloud. “They don’t have to spend the extra resources to pay for hard drives.”