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How Microsoft is courting law enforcement to its cloud

The next time an armed robbery takes place in Los Angeles and surveillance cameras happen to record the break-in, that video footage may be heading to the cloud.

Microsoft (MSFT) said today that a number of law enforcement agencies including the Los Angeles Police Department, the Oakland Police Department, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department in North Carolina are all using the company’s cloud data centers to store law enforcement information.

Agencies are using Microsoft Azure, the name of its cloud computing platform, to store surveillance video, criminal records, fingerprint data, and even the footage from police body cameras.

“Once we get our video onto the Azure platform we can aggregate it, we can learn from it, we can make the database proactive to tell us things,” Oakland Police Department Officer Dave Burke said in a statement.

Burke described how the Oakland police can search for specific keywords in the cloud database and retrieve the appropriate audio or video “where certain things were said.” It’s unclear if Burke was referring to the department being able to sift through the actual audio for keywords or through transcripts.

Law enforcement agencies can only store sensitive data with vendors that comply with the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Security Policy. Microsoft says it does comply with the requirements, which includes tough security standards, and routine audits of the cloud-service provider’s performance.

In 2011, the LAPD decided ended plans to use Google’s (GOOG) cloud services like email and office applications because the department felt the search giant wasn’t able to meet the FBI’s security requirements.

Microsoft isn’t the only cloud computing provider trying to lure government agencies that, until recently, were apprehensive about putting sensitive information inside the data centers of another company. Amazon Web Services built a special private cloud infrastructure for the CIA, which reportedly netted Amazon (AMZN) more than $600 million.

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