January 29, 2015
Take Your System to the “Cloud,” And Focus More on the Work of Your Agency
Cloud- Based Technology in Government and Law Enforcement
In order to operate efficiently, our government is organized into many different departments and agencies, each with its own specific purpose and mission.
> The mission of the DOT is to focus on safe roads, planning and engineering of transportation systems, and creating policies and
laws to serve the public's need to safely get from one place to another
> The mission of Department of Health is to promote and maintain the health and well being of the public, focusing on such
services as disease control and prevention and regulating medical service providers
> Law Enforcement and prosecutorial agencies have the mission of protecting citizens, upholding the law, and prosecuting those
who break these laws
Imagine you are the Director of Public Safety for a large city or county agency. Your mission is to protect the public from many kinds of harm. In order to accomplish this, your agency requires many different tools and supplies such as vehicles, radios, weapons, body armor, computers, flashlights, and so on. While your mission is providing public safety, much of your time is spent on the routine acquisition and maintenance of these necessary tools, equipment and supplies that allow your agency to operate. You purchase vehicles from auto and truck dealers, and have them serviced there; you purchase radios from communications companies …and so on. Government agency leaders are realizing that with limited resources and budgets, it is becoming more essential than ever to focus their resources on the mission.
Personnel in an agency are focused on the agency's charter; thus the training and expertise of its staff should be supporting this mission not on attending to tasks and activities that may be more cost-effectively performed outside. The Police Department certainly doesn't build its own guns. Nor would it hire staff to run an "ammo-reloading division" within the agency. It's doubtful that you would service the inner parts of your radios or the building's plumbing if it broke that would be done by a professional plumbing company. You get the idea.
You get the supplies you need from outside specialists and professionals, while your staff focuses on your core mission and what they have been trained to do. You may be asking what does all this have to do with cloud computing?
More and more over the past decade, the leadership of many government agencies are making the decision to apply this same rationale (that is, sticking to the core agency focus) by getting their information processing needs handled by professionals who specialize in that area. During the 1990's, the first wave of this hit with the tremendous growth of CommercialOffTheShelf (COTS) software, a specialty of CSI. Today, agencies at all levels are procuring mostly all of their software needs by either purchasing or leasing the applications; fewer and fewer moderate and large sized government enterprises are writing homegrown applications these days.
Now, this same shift is taking place in the infrastructure area, as agencies are beginning to turn over the responsibility for providing and maintaining servers, storage, and network resources. This has led to the steady growth over the past five years of the adoption of cloudbased solutions for government, where the application does not reside on government servers, but on a “cloud.” The “cloud” is a secure IT environment set up in a remote location, where your application and your data are securely monitored and maintained. Not only does this relieve the government of administering the functions for maintaining an application and the hardware it resides on, but the state (or county) now does not have to purchase hardware, which often becomes outdated faster than the budgeting, purchasing or staffing of the agency can support. CSI has seen an increasing number of open bids such as RFP's and RFQ's permitting (some requiring) a fully hosted solution.
So what do the “experts” say about the use of cloud computing by government and law enforcement agencies? Two of the key organizations in this industry are the IACP (International Association of Chiefs of Police) and the IJIS Institute (Integrated Justice Information Sharing). Both have published provisions, endorsements and recommendations for the use of cloud computing.
The IACP says: Cloud computing technologies offer substantial potential benefits to law enforcement and government agencies. Cost savings, rapid deployment of critical resources, offsite storage and disaster recovery, and dynamic provisioning of new and additional resources when needed are among the tangible benefits that cloud computing potentially offers to law enforcement agencies of all sizes. (from IACP Cloud Computing Principles, January 2013 (http:// w w w . t h e i a c p . o r g / p o r t a l s / 0 / p d f s / GuidingPrinciplesonCloudComputinginLawEnforcement. pdf)
And after a Law Enforcement study and analysis performed by IJIS, they cite in their 'Conclusions' section of the document that: The risks identified in this study and the research into the cloud computing field, on which much of this analysis is based, lead to the conclusion that cloud computing is a valuable and reasonable approach to operating law enforcement missioncritical applications.
A misunderstanding exists among some in the law enforcement community that Law Enforcement data may not use cloud computing. This is not the case. There are, of course, important and strict requirements for a provider to meet to be in conformance with CJIS Security, as set forth by the FBI.
If you are considering a cloud solution, CSI is pleased to inform you of two key points
1. Our current generation of CSI's product set (3.0) is designed to be cloudready with an application architecture that supports it.
2. We have partnered with a cloud provider that is one of a very few that are CJIS / FBI compliant with CJIS Security Policy 5.1 and later.
CSI’s Vice President and Chief Information Officer,
Chris Rein, confirms that we have selected an
exceptionally credentialed company to partner with
on the cloud platform. “Our cloud hosting partner is
a New Jersey company called CJIS Solutions, located
in Little Falls. A number of CSI management, account
execs and our engineering director have toured and
inspected the site. This site is impressive, with the
levels of physical and operational security far above
any of the state or county data centers in the state.
Multiple power grid feeds, onoroffsite duality, double
and triple redundant systems to protect access are
just a few of the features that CJIS Solutions offers,
and we have seen that with our own eyes. Extensive
background checks, blast-radius protection exceeding the required minimum, the list of their protective measures goes on and on, “explains Rein. You can visit their website at http:// www.cjissolutions.com.
CSI Technology Group is very happy to support our many customers who are choosing at this time to continue to host their own servers and physical infrastructure, of course. This is our most common type of customer environment today. But we do want you to know, with confidence, that we are ready, poised, and able to provide any of our current and new customers with a fully hosted, hands off, cost effective SaaS solution for their application needs. SaaS stands for Software as a Service, which, basically means you lease the software and it is centrally hosted; i.e., a cloud solution.
If you would like additional information on how cloud
computing may help simplify your system needs and
allow you to focus more on your mission, please
contact us at (732) 3460200.