Microsoft Azure Government customers get secure generative AI API access

Diagram of OpenAI service on Azure Government

Microsoft has announced that Microsoft Azure Government customers in the United States such as federal, state, and local government or their partners, can now access the Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service. This gives governments at all levels in the US access to generative AI tools in a way that meets stringent security requirements for government cloud operations.

According to Microsoft, the Azure OpenAI Service communicates securely through transport-layer security (TLS). Azure Government connects directly to the commercial Microsoft Azure network and never peers with the public internet or the Microsoft corporate network.

In addition, the company said that data from Azure Government customers are never used to train the OpenAI model. We saw a similar measure put in place on ChatGPT, but it isn’t the default setting there.

The Azure OpenAI Service gives government customers the ability to use GPT-4, GPT-3, and Embeddings through the Azure OpenAI Service REST APIs. You can use these to accelerate content generation, streamline content summarization, optimize semantic search, and simply code generation. Expanding on each of those, Microsoft writes:

  • Accelerate content generation: Automatically generate responses based on mission or project inquiries to help reduce the time and effort required for research and analysis, enabling teams to focus on higher-level decision-making and strategic tasks. 
  • Streamline content summarization: Generate summaries of logs and rapid analysis of articles, analysts, and field reports.
  • Optimize semantic search: Enable enhanced information discovery and knowledge mining.
  • Simplify code generation: Build custom applications using natural language to query proprietary data models and rapidly generate code documentation.

“One of the most effective ways to generate reliable answers is to prompt the model to draw its responses from grounding data,” said Bill Chappell, CTO of Strategic Missions and Technologies at Microsoft. “If your use case relies on up-to-date, reliable information and is not purely a creative scenario, we strongly recommend providing grounding data based on trusted internal data sources.”

“In general, the closer you can get your source material to the final form of the answer you want, the less work the model needs to do, which means there is less opportunity for error.”

The Azure OpenAI Service will require registration and is only available to approved customers and partners. Microsoft has published an Azure Government OpenAI Access QuickStart to help governments get started.

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