Azure measures up for Australian government cloud

A flurry of cloud activity in the nation’s capital this week has centered around the certification of Microsoft’s Azure platform for secure government hosting, based on a new offering known as as Azure Australia Central.

Deployed at the commercial facilities of Canberra Data Centres, the new Azure offering benefits from the facilities “Secret” accreditation for Commonwealth government data.

Microsoft also announced that Azure and Office 365 have been awarded Protected Certification by the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) across all Australian regions where the Microsoft cloud is available: Sydney, Melbourne and now Canberra. 

James Kavanagh, Azure Engineering Lead for Microsoft Australia said: “Microsoft has been leading the way on government security certification since we first opened in 2014.  We have completed extensive security assessments for both Unclassified and Protected data and have over 50 services across Microsoft Azure and Office 365 that have completed the formal Certification process of the Australian Signals Directorate at Unclassified (DLM) level”

“Australian government quite rightly has sophisticated compliance processes and controls for Protected-classified data – controls that we have designed to exceed here in Canberra” said Kavanagh.

Objective Corporation has announced it will become one of Microsoft’s launch partners as it migrates the hosting of its cloud collaboration platform, Objective Connect, to Azure Australia Central.

Jon Palin, Chief Technology Officer, Objective Corporation, said, “For nearly thirty years, Objective has been trusted to provide governance for the public sectors most sensitive information and processes. With the launch of Azure Australia Central we can leverage the scale, connectivity, resilience and security of Microsoft’s mission-critical cloud to deliver cross-agency collaboration and processing. This opens opportunities for agencies to innovate new ways of working, extending the value of their existing information assets and investments.”

Objective is working directly with public sector agencies looking to transform their existing Information Management infrastructure by moving to cloud delivery and will also be offering specific public sector solutions such as Ministerials processing, Correspondence management and Open Data (FOI) through Azure Australia Central.

Citadel Group uses Azure for national security app

A ground-breaking national security platform that would mobilise citizen’s smartphones as critical incident data sources is under development. The prototype app is being created by ASX-listed The Citadel Group and runs on Microsoft’s new Azure Australia Central.

The app is being designed to allow real time video uploads and information capture to enhance national security. The app would let users instantly collect data, such as video and audio, which along with telemetry information from the phone itself, can be transmitted to a centralised command and control centre.  

The solution is being designed so that data coming from multiple sources can be instantly consolidated and analysed. It will perform analytics on the incoming data streams to generate real time intelligence about a situation to help direct rapid response when and where it is needed. The app could also be used to actively push notifications out to citizens and users with alerts as required.

Citadel CEO Darren Stanley said “The concept for the solution can be traced back to the day of the Lindt siege terror attack when it became clear the first responders did not have immediate access to real time information they needed to rapidly deal with the situation. We felt we could design and develop a citizen-centric solution to make that information available and keep people safe.

“In simple terms this turns a smartphone into an intelligence reporting device.  Citizens choose to report this information. From a national security perspective, you see something, you’re in a bad situation, you hear an explosion. Even if you can’t tell if it was actually an explosion or just a car backfiring, you’re able to submit your recording.

“Now emergency services can see what people are seeing, hear what people are hearing and understand whether it’s a single incident or co-ordinated attack.

“Instead of three separate incidents being called in separately and treated individually, the in-built analytics of this platform determines that there are three incidents reported within two kilometres of each other which are atypical and may be a co-ordinated attack. Traditionally that sort of insight may take hours to develop – this app makes it seamless.”

Other Australian government usage of Microsoft Azure includes:

  • The Victorian Supreme Court is undertaking a digital transformation that uses Microsoft Azure to connect all 34 courtrooms and underpin a digital case management solution to streamline and speed the process of justice.  
  • The Department of Human Services is exploring how intelligent Azure cloud services and bot technologies can support employees and ultimately expand consumer engagement channels.
  • The Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection has placed Dynamics365 and Microsoft Azure at the heart of a new system that is streamlining Australian Border Force cargo inspections.
  • The new Bendigo Hospital, Victoria’s newest acute care facility, is delivering anytime anywhere access to patient and clinical information with the help of local Microsoft partner Mexia on Microsoft Azure.
  • Emergency services in Queensland, NSW and Victoria rely on Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Office 365 to respond in the event of natural disasters.
  • Department of Industry, Innovation and Science is one of the first Government agencies to federate with Microsoft Azure and one of the first Government Departments in APAC to roll out Dynamics365.