Law enforcement slow to adopt cloud computing

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Cloud computing adoption remains low among law enforcement agencies, according to the results of a survey unveiled Jan. 31.

According to a Ponemon Institute survey (.pdf) of 272 officials, most of them chief executives of police or sheriff departments, 46 percent of law enforcement agencies are not considering utilizing cloud computing. Thirty-eight percent say they're considering it, or planning for adoption within the next 2 years, and 16 percent say they use it now. Ponemon did the survey at the behest of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and cloud computing promoter SafeGov.

Cloud adoption in law enforcement faces the hurdle of meeting FBI Criminal Justice Information Services security policy standards (.pdf)--standards which the FBI says (.pdf) are "cloud-compatible," although acknowledging that "the requirements may be tough for some vendors to meet." In a high-profile case, the city of Los Angeles in 2011 reversed (.pdf) a Google Apps for Government deployment to its police department on the grounds of noncompliance with CJIS policy.

According to the survey, nearly all law enforcement officials say employees of a cloud computing provider must pass a background check before their agency will consider hiring it, with 74 percent of respondents stating it's "very important" that they do so.

Fifty-three percent of respondents also said they'd be willing to share cloud infrastructure only with other law enforcement agencies; 42 percent said they'd be willing to share with no one.

Among the agencies that have adopted cloud computing, email and storage are the most popular applications, with 17 percent and 15 percent of respondents, respectively, claiming that use. Agencies that do use cloud computing tend to be larger than average, the survey also shows; in a sample size where the number of sworn officers per agency was 216, departments utilizing the cloud consisted on average of 335 officers.

Simultaneously with release of the survey, the International Association of Chiefs of Police released sample cloud computing contractual language (.pdf) based on a set of guiding principles.

For more:
- download the survey results (.pdf)
- download the IACP "Guiding Principles on Cloud Computing in Law Enforcement" (.pdf)

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