Microsoft helps UN - Managed Solution

Technology helps the UN advance the protection of human rights in new ways

As written on
Globally, human rights abuses tear apart lives, families and nations. Ensuring justice and reconciliation — and intervening early to prevent atrocities — is in the hands of the United Nations. But how can the UN know when human rights are in the balance?
Ahmed Motala leads one of the teams at the UN Human Rights Office tasked to find out. In places like Syria, Burundi and Sri Lanka, these teams are part of the world’s early warning systems. Eyewitnesses and field staff collect information and pass it on to human rights officers, who build up a picture of what is happening before calling on governments or the UN to intervene.
“It’s about putting this jigsaw puzzle together,” Motala says.
Motala recently supported the Office’s investigation on Sri Lanka. For over a quarter of a century, the island in the Indian Ocean was embroiled in bitter and bloody civil war, which left as many as 100,000 people dead. Technology was vital for helping him and his colleagues put the pieces together. “We are able to find leads on what may be happening,” he says. With a smartphone, anyone can be a human rights defender. “Often people in very remote places have mobile phones that have a good camera and the possibility of uploading.”
Photo of two men speaking to crowd of solemn people, some holding photos of loved ones
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, meets with relatives of missing people in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province. (Photo courtesy of OHCHR)
The UN Human Rights Office has over 1,000 staff worldwide, working at every level from gathering reports in conflict zones to advocating at the UN Security Council. Technology can overcome physical barriers to access, let human rights defenders communicate securely and help verify reports of abuses. That’s one of the reasons why Microsoft is launching a five-year partnership with the UN to support its vital work in this field.
“New technologies are advancing so rapidly, and companies like Microsoft can advise us on how to use those technologies to protect human rights,” says Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Boosting his staff’s capacity to process data will make for speedier responses. A dashboard that Microsoft is helping to develop and deploy will pull in, process and compare various sources of information. Artificial intelligence and big data analytics can assist in verifying alleged human rights abuses by cross-checking against other data sets as well as searching for additional clues.
“One of the big challenges for us is, how do you develop the tools to gather information when you don’t have access?” Motala explains. With Sri Lanka, despite a UN resolution with a “very clear request to the parties to provide access, they refused — the former president even issued a public statement saying they would not cooperate with the investigation.”
Enter the power of data to find the human rights jigsaw pieces. People sent thousands of photographs and hundreds of hours of video that teams like Motala’s have to assess, along with written eyewitness accounts of what happened. Before placing them into the story, investigators must ask: Are they true? Old images may have been reused, Photoshopped, misattributed or have doctored data.
“What is fake, what is true? That’s a question we ask ourselves on a regular basis,” Motala says. Staff across the UN have received training to gauge photo and video materials to see if they’ve been altered. “We’ll get allegations like that, a video saying this is Boko Haram in Nigeria,” says Scott Campbell of the UN Human Rights Office’s Africa desk. By looking at factors like date and time, identifying the location, and checking weather conditions against records, “you say, well, wait a minute, this is a photo from 1998 in Latin America.”
Once photos are established as reliable, it’s time to place them in a narrative. “A shocking photograph of dead bodies has to be carefully analyzed to see if it discloses any clues,” Motala says. It’s a matter of searching through swathes of data for related images showing an aircraft, a gun, a bomb or a sign of whether the people involved are combatants or civilians. This is both difficult and time-consuming. Technology will be able to help the UN to sort the signals from the noise, identifying relevant points in the ever-growing quantity of digital evidence.
In Sri Lanka, there were allegations that cluster bombs had been used — so an image of a bomblet, for example, could be crucial. “What we are hoping to develop is a tool that will help us categorize photographs,” Motala says, “so if I receive thousand images and put them through the system, I can ask for ‘bomb’ and the system will pull out all the photos showing a bomb.”
All of these methods accompany more traditional tools like processing reports from media and other UN agencies, as well as human rights NGOs. In the age of social media, some clues are also provided by human rights abusers themselves. “Many perpetrator organizations are putting up a lot of information about their own exploits as part of the propaganda war,” Motala adds — and that information also needs verification.
Solving any puzzle is easier if you arrange the pieces first, and one of the first projects of Microsoft’s partnership with the UN Human Rights Office does just that. Rights View is an information dashboard that pulls together information from various sources. The idea was born in a brainstorming session at a UN Human Rights Office workshop on ICT for Human Rights back in 2013, from an idea scribbled by the participants showing the information needed to predict and assess crises.
Photo of handwritten notes about the Rights View dashboard on a piece of paperIdea for Rights View scribbled by the participants of a brainstorming session at a UN Human Rights Office workshop on ICT for Human Rights back in 2013. (Photo courtesy of OHCHR)
Rights View will draw together internal data from across the various areas of the Office, including information collected by UN Human Rights Office field staff, and external public data, as well as social media. “By bringing this information together, we will be able to better analyze it and to promote action in relation to early warnings of human rights risks,” says Andrew Palmer of the Office’s Emergency Response Section. The overall aim is to “provide a clear human rights perspective on potential, emerging or ongoing crises, and to get the appropriate responses to them by engaging other parts of the UN and the international community more broadly.”
“We’ll also have a simple way of bringing all that information together to more easily produce reports, speaking points and briefings to bodies such as the UN Security Council,” he adds. “And it will enable us to create short, pithy, visually compelling information to have a more immediate impact on the situation.” The tool will also help the UN Human Rights Office to be more efficient at deploying its own staff to emergency situations, he adds. “Having the dashboard will mean there is a single, go-to source for country-specific information, which will ensure that staff hit the ground running.”
And when the Office is unable to deploy staff directly to countries of concern, Rights View will enable the Office to more efficiently monitor, analyze and report on the situation remotely, as the Office has recently done in relation to the human rights situations in southeast Turkey and northern Rakhine in Myanmar. “There is a wealth of information that can be drawn upon to better understand the human rights situation within a country from the outside, and the dashboard will improve our ability to do this,” Palmer adds.
Photo of two workers standing at a security gate with a UN vehicle in the background
Members of Commissions of Inquiry and fact-finding missions require access to victims, witnesses and sources, some of whom may be in detention centers. (UN Photo/Martine Perret)
Taking action is at the heart of the partnership for Microsoft. “There is a great untapped opportunity for us to use technology in new ways to protect human rights around the world,” says Microsoft President Brad Smith. “Data science and analytics can empower the UN Human Rights Office to both pinpoint the problem and understand what needs to be solved.”
As Microsoft works on new ways to help the UN find the pieces in the human rights puzzle, it reinforces the need for businesses around the world to engage in the issue. “As a global company, our business suffers when people suffer,” Smith adds. “We believe that the business community can be a constructive voice for the protection of human rights everywhere.”
Lene Wendland, who manages the UN Human Rights Office’s business and human rights team, hopes the partnership will blaze a trail. “We are working with Microsoft to also engage with a much broader range of companies to discuss the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which is our main normative framework when dealing with companies,” she says. “Private companies, in their own right, independent of what states are doing, have a responsibility to respect human rights across their operations, but many companies still find implementation of this responsibility to be challenging. Through peer-learning workshops for companies convened together with Microsoft, we want to support companies in overcoming challenges of implementation.”
Policies on non-discrimination, for example, are key. “What we are expecting any company to do is not just look at the obvious ones, but there might be other salient human rights risks, which you only identify if you go out and look for them,” she says. She also points to the wider trend of companies putting human rights at the core of their work, creating valuable allies in an era where many states “don’t always do what they commit to with regards to human rights.”
The power wielded by large companies can be an enormous incentive for everyone to do the right thing. “It’s super important to have corporations of all different sorts involved in human rights in Africa,” says Campbell. “When corporations step in and put up their own obligations around human rights and do that hand-in-hand with the governments of countries where they’re operating, they can be an incredibly strong ally in the human rights movement.”
Screen shot shows a dashboard with various numbers and graphs to convey information
An early mock-up of the Rights View dashboard.
Getting the right pieces to complete the human rights puzzle will become easier with Rights View. That’s just the beginning. The potential of artificial intelligence and big data analytics is in its infancy: The best intervention from the UN is one that stops the human rights crisis from occurring. And by increasing the digital capacity of human rights organizations, ordinary people will be able to participate even more effectively in human rights monitoring and reporting.
“I believe that Microsoft technology can definitely help advance the UN’s protection of human rights, but so can technology from many other companies,” says Smith. “The more we can generate support, the better the protection of human rights will be served.”
That’s something that’s needed now more than ever.
“In today’s world, the universality of human rights and respect for the institutions and norms, is really being put into question,” Campbell says. “We haven’t been using technology enough, and the Microsoft project will really bring us up to speed.”


Sharing services to improve government efficiency

By Parul Bhandari as written on
Faced with shrinking budgets, many governments around the world are being forced to do more with less. In the United States, for example, consumption and investment by all levels of government—local, state and federal combined—recently dropped to 17.6 percent of gross domestic product, its lowest level in 66 years. Similar trends are occurring in many advanced economies around the world.
In the current climate, it’s imperative that governments make every dollar count—and shared services offer a compelling way to do just that. Since the 1990s, many governments have been sharing services—combining resources, functions, and infrastructure—to reduce costs and deliver services more effectively to citizens. And now, thanks to cloud computing, the opportunity exists to share services even more easily and cost-effectively, leading more government agencies to embrace this operating model with impressive results.
A great example is the Baltic country of Estonia, which is transforming citizen engagement by issuing a digital ID to all its citizens 15 years and older. This secure, authenticated identity acts as a national health insurance card, proof of identification for bank accounts, a pre-paid public transport ticket, voting identification, and more. With 600 e-services offered to citizens, Estonia is making access to government services much more efficient for citizens, no matter what service they need to access and which individual agency oversees it.
Likewise, the United Kingdom is reducing costs and increasing efficiency by combining technology across government departments located overseas. Specifically, the UK government is creating a Common Technology Service that allows overseas governmental agencies such as UK Trade and Investment, the Department for International Development, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to collaborate on documents, communicate by voice or video, share calendars, and work from mobile devices using common cloud-based systems. The effort is part of the UK’s “One HMG Overseas” agenda, which aims to remove barriers to joint working so that all overseas staff in the UK government can deliver the UK’s objectives more efficiently.
Saudi Arabia is taking yet another approach to shared services. Its Ministry of Interior’s National Information Center (NIC) is unifying data across government systems to provide better information to citizens while improving public safety and national security situational awareness. Charged with providing comprehensive e-services to citizens, residents, and businesses, the center is improving its e-services through the creation of a massive public data exchange database that can handle tens of terabytes of data and tens of millions of citizen requests per day. To provide public safety and national security officials with improved information, the center also deployed a system using a unified data integration platform, data management hosting, data warehousing, and business intelligence. The solution integrates with 182 internal and external systems and handles petabytes of structured and unstructured data.
These are just a few of the ways governments around the globe are sharing services to improve efficiency and deliver better services to constituents. To learn more, please see our “Best practices for government shared services” white paper. Also, be sure to reach Michele Bedford Thistle’s recent blog post, “A new era of shared services.”
Also, look to request a trial and experience how technology can empower your agency: Azure Government Trial, Office 365 Government Trial.


Europe eyes new rules for online platforms

By Natasha Lomas as written on
The European Union’s executive body has today set out a series of proposals for new rules that would apply to a broad range of online platforms, from the likes of YouTube to Google to eBay, as part of ongoing efforts to boost competitiveness in the region under its Digital Single Market Strategy.
The proposals follow a year long assessment by the European Commission of online platforms, after which it says it has concluded that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is not appropriate to maximize consumer benefits while ensuring effective regulation across all the different types of platforms — so it says it will rather look at each area where it can act “from telecoms to copyright rules, to address any specific problems in a future-proof way for all market players”.
Among the proposed changes is a new set of audiovisual rules — with the stated aim of achieving a better balance between rules that apply to traditional broadcasters vs online video-on-demand providers and video-sharing platforms like YouTube. Key among the EC’s concerns here is safeguarding minors.
It says it wants video-sharing platforms to help come up with a code of conduct for the industry relating to protecting minors online. For the most harmful content (gratuitous violence and pornography) it wants to strict control measures applied to online platforms, such as age verification or pin codes.
Under the proposals there would also be a stronger role for audiovisual regulators.
At this stage the EC is not including social network platforms such as Facebook — where plenty of video-sharing and viewing now takes place of course — in its definition of online platforms but it does say this could change in future.  “If a particular social media provider meets all the characteristics of a video-sharing platform, they will be covered as such,” it notes.
These proposals are an update to the existing Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AMSD), which has governed audiovisual media in the region for almost 30 years. The existing directive also includes stipulations to encourage cultural diversity and the free circulation of content within Europe, which the EC wants to see bleeding over to the online platforms that viewers are increasingly turning to in the digital era.
Under current rules, for example, TV broadcasters are obliged to broadcast at least 50 per cent share of European works (including national content) in viewing time. This proportion will remain unchanged under the proposal but VOD services would get more formal obligations — with a proposed requirement that they have at least a 20 per cent share of European content in their catalogues, and give good visibility to European content in any offers.
Elsewhere, the Commission has also been looking at the rules around ad content, and says it wants greater flexibility for online platforms to use product placement and sponsorship — with the caveat that they must keep viewers informed at the start or end of a program. Product placement will still be forbidden in content with a significant children’s audience.
Also today the Commission has set out additional proposals for updating ecommerce rules — with a push to prevent unjustified geoblocking, such as discriminating on price based on nationality or residency, by online platforms.
In moves aimed at boosting trust in ecommerce it also wants search engines to be required to “clearly distinguish” paid placements from organic search results. And the industry to step-up voluntary efforts to tackle fake/misleading online reviews.
Increasing price-transparency and regulatory oversight of cross-border parcel delivery services to boost regional ecommerce is another priority.
The Commission is also focusing on controlling the spread of hate speech on online platforms — an issue which has again bubbled to the fore in Europe in recent times, following the refugee crisis.
A code of conduct the EC has been working on with online platforms is due to be presented in the coming weeks, it said today.
The package of measures are proposals at this stage with European law requiring EU Member States to vote on and agree them, and transpose them into national legislation — a process that can take multiple years.


[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]MISAC presenting managed solution

Today at the Municipal Information Systems Association of California (MISAC) meeting Sean Ferrel presented the latest business insights by Microsoft that are transforming the modern workplace

Managed Solution is the premier provider of IT support services and technology recommendations for the government sector. Founded in 2002, we enjoy a proud tradition of partnering with the IT staff of the many organizations we work with. We can even act as your IT team. For more information on government specific solutions contact Managed Solution at 800-220-4432 or fill out the contact form.


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Cloud adoption soars in regulated industries

By Kenneth Corbin as written on
New study from cloud security firm finds that government agencies and businesses are rapidly warming to Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365.
The past year-and-a-half has seen a steep increase in the rate of adoption of cloud computing applications, with some of the biggest movers found in the government and regulated industries.
That's according to a new study by the cloud security firm Bitglass, which analyzed traffic from some 130,000 organizations in North America and reported a 71 percent surge in cloud usage across the board in the verticals it evaluated.
Within the government sector, Bitglass reported a spike of more than 300 percent in the proportion of agencies that have moved to the cloud.
Quantifying the cloud
Rich Campagna, vice president of products at Bitglass, says the study seems to confirm what industry observers have seen anecdotally, quantifying "the sheer rate at which cloud adoption has taken off in the last year-and-a-half."
Importantly, Bitglass' analysis was not looking at all facets of the cloud. The firm evaluated only the use of public cloud applications, and, of that large subset, confined its analysis to the popular productivity suites Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365. Those applications, Campagna explained, are generally deployed on an enterprise-wide scale and are "key indicators" that an organization has committed to a "cloud-first strategy."
"The decision is made at the CIO level to move to Office 365 or to Google," he says. "What we wanted to find is what is the best indicator of an organization-wide adoption of cloud-based applications."
So that approach weeds out firms where a small pocket of employees might have incorporated some niche application into their workflow, but where the enterprise writ large continues to run processes like email and collaboration applications through a traditional, locally housed data center.
Among U.S. government agencies, 47 percent have adopted either Google Apps or Office 365, according to Bitglass' findings. A slightly larger proportion of agencies with more than 1,000 employees have made the move, but Bitglass is still seeing much of the cloud activity happening at the state and local level.
"They have a thin IT shop and this allows them to focus on value-added parts of their business, rather than on having to spend on a headcount on managing and maintaining applications that are not part of their core [mission]," Campagna says.
The most dramatic increase has come in the education sector, where, by Bitglass' estimate, 83 percent of organizations have adopted one of the cloud apps that it evaluated, up from 23 percent a year-and-a-half ago.
"That's easily explained by the incredibly compelling licensing that Microsoft and Google offer," Campagna says, referring to the free distribution those companies have been offering to education customers.
But less dramatic gains can still be observed in other regulated industries, such as healthcare, where 36 percent of the organizations Bitglass reviewed have moved toward an enterprise deployment of a cloud app, up from 8 percent last year.
In the financial sector, adoption increased to 37.5 percent from 9.5 last year, and would likely be higher still with more permissive industry regulations governing the use of IT.
Microsoft and Google cloud offerings promote adoption
Campagna sees a variety of factors at work in the rise in cloud adoption, and credits Microsoft with a successful sales strategy that has aggressively promoted Office 365 while also offering more flexibility in the licensing and renewal terms of its contracts. Google, too, has recently been stepping up its efforts to push its Apps suite in the enterprise, Campagna says.
But there is also a larger shift underway that has seen the security concerns about the cloud at least partially abate. Young companies like Bitglass, which describes itself as a "cloud access security broker," have been popping up with the express purpose of helping enterprises lock down their data in a public-cloud environment. And within IT circles, where CISOs might not have even considered going to a public cloud a few years ago, many have lately been softening their stance on the issue as they aim to reposition security as a driver of the organization's mission.
"Within that risk-averse subset of the IT department, I've seen the attitudes just shift quite a bit over the last couple years," Campagna says. "The mindset of security practitioners in general -- and there are still some holdouts -- has shifted from one of control to one of enablement over the last couple of years."

civic tech managed solution

Civic Tech Brings Power And Positivity To The People Via

By Stacy Donohue (@StacyDon) as written on
People have long had a complicated relationship with their governments — a tension that often is exacerbated by government policies and processes that cannot keep pace with today’s on-demand culture.
It doesn’t have to be like this. The tech community — especially those working in civic tech — know this to be true. From enabling crowdfunding campaigns to revamping entire cities’ tech infrastructure, civic tech empowers people to turn challenges and frustrations with government into opportunities for a new business, a new career or a new voice.
With the growing interest and support from the investment community, there has never been a better time to jump in to the civic tech movement.
The momentum is truly a tribute to those who have championed civic tech for years, including Jake Brewer, the senior policy advisor to U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith who died in a bicycle accident during a cancer charity ride. As President Obama noted, Jake “dedicated his life to empowering people and making government work better for them,” and his legacy will certainly help propel forward the civic tech movement for generations to come.
Here are three ways those in and out of Silicon Valley can help create positive change in the relationship between the governing and the governed.

Make It Personal

Civic tech entrepreneurs look at pain points as fuel for change. In fact, some of the best civic tech businesses have been born out of the challenges their founders faced.
Take Dan Brillman, an Air Force pilot who grew increasingly concerned as his military friends struggled with the difficult process to search for services and programs available for veterans. Brillman, fellow veteran Taylor Justice and military supporter Andrew Price didn’t wait for the government to come up with a solution. They took matters into their own hands and started Unite US, a free online platform that connects military members, veterans and their families to resources both in their local communities and at the national level.
Similarly, Rose Broome of HandUp created her company after coming across a homeless woman on a cold San Francisco night. Her realization and frustration that there was no sustainable way to help that woman led her to found HandUp. The site and its initiatives such as Homeless Outreach Day enable donors to connect directly with those in need in their communities, helping provide them with everything from funds for basic necessities to medical procedures to college tuition.
These are just two examples of how personal frustrations with government can translate into innovative businesses and offer entrepreneurs the chance to bring communities closer together.

Take A New Career Step

Civic tech is reshaping the resumes of Silicon Valley veterans, new tech talent and those preparing to graduate and enter the workforce. These individuals see the tech deficits in government as career opportunities and the chance to do meaningful work that improves the lives of millions of Americans.
Within the last year, Megan Smith and Alex Macgillivray left tech titans Google and Twitter, respectively, for top positions at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Minerva Tantoco, New York City’s first-ever chief technology officer (CTO), joined Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration after more than 25 years in the private sector. Peter Marx, now Los Angeles’ CTO, was once at Qualcomm Labs and Mattel. Today, he uses his background as an engineer, producer and technical director to drive innovative initiatives such as Los Angeles’ partnership with the popular traffic app Waze.
Civic tech can play an important role in empowering people to take action.
Opportunities to do meaningful work in this intersection are only increasing. President Obama recently announced that the Presidential Innovation Fellowships program — an experimental program to bring tech talent into federal government for “tours of duty” to enable innovation and best technical practices — will now become a permanent part of government.
Rethinking how your tech background could be applied in government could lead to a purpose-driven career trajectory that you never imagined.

Become An Active User — And Citizen

While the civic tech movement is inspiring many people to start businesses or use their skills to serve in government, there are also easy ways for everyone to make a difference in their communities.
You can invest in city infrastructure projects instead of waiting for tax dollars to trickle down through platforms such as Citizinvestor and Neighborly. For example, you can fund a new bike rack downtown or new trash cans for a park, improving your community at an on-demand pace.
Platforms such as SeeClickFix allow individuals to report and track unresolved potholes, graffiti, broken streetlights and vandalized playgrounds, putting a transparent spotlight on government responsiveness. An estimated 25,000 issues were addressed in September alone through this civic tech platform, fostering collaboration with other residents, local government, partner organizations and media.
From long lines at the DMV to ineffective procurement processes, our 21st century challenges with government shape many Americans’ negative perceptions. But for those in the civic tech community, these challenges are an opportunity to give back and make a meaningful difference in our society.
Technology is not the solution to every problem, to be sure. But in an era marked by political pessimism and ever-increasing frustration with government, civic tech can play an important role in empowering people to take action — as entrepreneurs, as public officials and as engaged citizens.


On October 14, 2015, Tom Keane Partner Director, Program Management of Microsoft Azure announced further momentum with new capabilities on Microsoft Azure Government that help customers leverage the cloud to deliver hybrid applications and business continuity. They released five new capabilities for Azure Government customers:
•Azure Backup
•Azure ExpressRoute
•Azure Resource Manager
•Azure Redis Cache
•Azure Automation

Since our launch ten months ago, hundreds of government customers in state and local, federal civilian and defense, plus over a hundred solution partners with dedicated government practices, have adopted Azure Government and these five new capabilities to expand on the innovation available to support their cloud requirements. This combination of new services combined with the largest set of compliance certifications in the industry give customers and partners the ability to do amazing things with Azure government. As said by one of our customers:

“The fact that Microsoft contractually committed to CJIS compliance by signing the FBI’s CJIS Security Addendum and having their employees background-checked by California DOJ helped give the LAPD the confidence that we could begin to leverage Azure Government for our most critical, sensitive workloads,” says Sanjoy Datta, information security officer, LAPD. “It is rare that vendors, on their own initiative, take the trouble to comply with the multiple regulatory frameworks that law enforcement, as well as all state and local government agencies, are required to meet. Microsoft has exceeded the LAPD's expectations in this regard by taking on the difficult requirements of the CJIS regulatory regime and meeting them head-on.”

Highlighting another customer success story of Azure Government and our compliance investments, Scott Shainman, president of Getac North America, worked with the Memphis Police Department to build a secure, scalable, mission-critical police video solution:

"The partnership of Getac's Veretos in-car video system and the Azure Government Cloud allows our customers to have the best secure data management and mobile video capture. Memphis Police Department is pursuing robust data driven policing and saw that Azure Government provides a contractual commitment to the CJIS Security Policy and easy integration with SQL Server - which the Getac software runs on - it gave them the assurance that this was the best solution for them," said Shainman.

Here are more details on the new capabilities we are announcing today for Azure Government:

Azure Backup

Azure Backup delivers an efficient and secure way for you to protect on-premises and on-cloud assets to Azure, and benefits from Azure Government’s physical isolation and support from cleared U.S. persons. Benefits include:
•Back-up for various workloads like SQL Server, SharePoint, Exchange, Hyper-V VM, Windows Servers and Windows Clients.
•Data encryption before it leaves your premises. This encrypted backup data is transmitted securely using HTTPS protocol and stored in an encrypted manner in the Azure Government cloud.
•Data is stored in highly resilient storage, up to six copies in two Azure Government cloud datacenters, geographically distributed more than 500 hundred miles apart providing true geographic redundancy and support for the continuity of your business.

Azure ExpressRoute

With Azure ExpressRoute you can create private, high-throughput connections between Azure Government datacenters and your existing infrastructure. Azure Government ExpressRoute connections do not go over the public Internet, and they offer more reliability, faster speeds, lower latencies, and higher security than typical connections over the Internet. What this means to you:
•A physically separate instance of ExpressRoute deployed specifically for Azure Government. This means that we have extended our Government cloud commitments from our datacenter, to neutral edge locations to provide the predictable performance and higher throughput of ExpressRoute, combined with the physical isolation that United States government customers demand.
•Initial Azure Government ExpressRoute Meet-Me sites are in Washington DC and Chicago vicinities. These locations provide dedicated connectivity to both U.S. Gov. Iowa and U.S. Gov. Virginia datacenters.

Azure Resource Manager (preview)

Azure Resource Manager allows you to simplify how you manage your app resources, including being able to:
•Deploy and update a group of resources, repeatedly.
•Manage permissions on a group of resources.
•Visualize a group of resources in a logical view, including monitoring or billing.
•Define the infrastructure and dependencies for your app in a single declarative template.

Azure Redis Cache (preview)

Azure Redis Cache provides access to a secured, dedicated Redis cache, managed by Microsoft. Accessible from any application within Azure Government, Azure Redis Cache helps your application become more responsive even as user load increases by leveraging the low latency, high-throughput capabilities of the Redis engine.

Azure Automation (preview)

With Azure Automation, you can automate frequent, time-consuming, and error-prone cloud management tasks. You can also:
•Create, monitor, manage, and deploy resources in Azure Government using runbooks, based upon Windows PowerShell workflows.
•Use Automation runbooks, which work with the Web Apps feature in Azure App Service, Azure Virtual Machines, Azure Storage, Microsoft SQL Server, and other popular Azure services, with any service offering public Internet application programming interfaces (APIs).
•Create checkpoints to resume your workflow after unexpected errors, crashes and network issues.

Looking to the future

We are listening to you and continue to regularly expand the set of capabilities in Azure Government.


cloudgovPaaS managed solution to give agencies a PaaS

By Amanda Ziadeh as written on
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Agencies will soon have a faster and easier way to develop, run, and manage web applications without the complexity and cost of building and maintaining infrastructure., a joint project of the U.S. Digital Services and the General Services Administration’s 18F agile development shop, will be a platform-as-a-service option that gives agencies an already-stable infrastructure and lessen the burden on IT departments.
According to Noah Kunin, 18F's director of delivery architecture and infrastructure services, the goal with this project was to “bureaucracy hack” a way to the cloud.
When agencies build a new system or implement new technology, they must comply with a long checklist of federal regulations, acts and schedules. Kunin, who discussed at the Code for America Summit on Oct. 1, told the audience he found he had to read through 4,006 pages of regulatory guidance.
The lengthy development process also affects planning. “In order to create rational plans around technology, we have to have some idea of what our cycle time for our innovations are,” Kunin said. A minor release around new technology, Kunin calculated, would take six to 14 months. However, difficulties along the way with the checklist of compliances could heavily prolong delivery and cause delays.
To fix this process before shipping the final product, Kunin and his team created a new back-end service. Launching “very soon,” according to Kunin, the platform is a pre-approved PaaS for government, built as a true production cloud that gives agencies a ready-to-use infrastructure upon which to build.
When Cloud.Gov debuts, Kunin said, agencies will not have to wait for approvals or juggle requests when creating applications. In the meantime, users can access to learn more, receive updates and explore the service’s capabilities.
Other projects that USDS and 18F announced at the summit include an improved, scalable login system for, a revamped electronic healthcare information network for the Department of Veterans Affairs, a replacement for VA's outdated Veterans Appeals Control and Locator System, and a preview of the Federal Election Commission's efforts to better consolidate and share campaign finance data online.

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