Archive for November, 2010

Using STOP’s Monitoring Center: Best practice option

Monday, November 29th, 2010

STOP continually looks for ways to help our customers run the best electronic monitoring programs. One best practice option that can help establish consistent management of events is using the services offered by our Monitoring Center.

We offer our own Monitoring Center, which is staffed 24/7/365 with skilled technicians who receive event alerts (or notifications) and manages events based on the agency’s protocols. Agency instructions for managing events and violations are called protocols.

These instructions are input into the Monitoring Center widget in VeriTracks and displayed for our staff members to follow for every type of event or violation we manage for an agency. For example, if an enrollee generates a low battery alert, an agency may want our Monitoring Center technicians to manage the event by instructing the enrollee to attach the charging coupler to the bottom of BluTag. If an enrollee violates an exclusion zone, the agency may want our technicians to call the local police department so immediate action can be taken.

Protocols can also include details such as if an enrollee doesn’t respond to a telephone call within 30 minutes of violating an inclusion zone, an escalation tree, which is set up in advance by the agency, begins.

By leveraging STOP’s experience and 24/7 operations, large and small agencies can operate an efficient community supervision program. Let your account manager know how we can help.

Needed immediately: review and evaluation of criminal justice system

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

The time has come for all aspects of the criminal justice system to be reviewed and reevaluated. The United States simply can’t afford to continue warehousing criminals. Each offender should be evaluated for appropriate placement based on criminal history, psychological state, support structure and available resources. However, the lack of available resources shouldn’t be an additional punishment to those needing them. It should be the obligation of our government to provide options to courts and supervision agencies to reintegrate an offender back into society. I am not delusional in thinking all offenders can be rehabilitated. There are some offenders who should be offered the most stringent punishment available for their crimes.

As researchers continue to study and evaluate alternatives to incarceration, more agencies need to take that next step and put those findings into practice. How can STOP help with these next steps? What can we do to help integrate supervision strategies into everyday agency activities? Let’s start that discussion now.

System health monitors help ensure continuous operations

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Last month an electronic monitoring vendor experienced a prolonged system outage. Such events have affected many of the best technology companies in the world, including Blackberry, Twitter and Facebook. All of these reliable, reputable technology companies have had their systems go down unexpectedly at one time or another. At Satellite Tracking of People, we work hard to avoid system outages.

To start, we architected VeriTracks with layers of redundancy. Our system is scaled horizontally in each of our Data Centers, which means individual components of the system, such as a power unit, a server or a cooling unit, can fail without impacting the entire system. Any one component can go down, yet the system will continue running normally. Our Data Centers are geographically separated, which allows us to quickly restore operations at the second site should the first one experience a catastrophic failure.

We also have an extensive monitoring system proactively watching the system’s operations. We have more than 1,000 individual monitors checking all aspects of system operations. Our monitors report everything from available storage space, the number of BluTag devices and BluHome units calling in at any given time, to the health of each individual server and the data storage disk. Because these monitors notify our staff of instances of exceeded thresholds early on, appropriate actions can be taken 24/7 to avoid a major system issue.

Our systems are designed with high availability and robust monitoring. We routinely test the system’s response capability to catastrophic situations and third parties double check our work. Recently our entire software system successfully passed an independent security assessment in accordance with the Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) Pub 800-53. This assessment reviews and analyzes the management, operational and technical safeguards or countermeasures prescribed for an information system to protect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the system and its information.

No vendor or agency wants an experience similar to what happened last week. But we realize it may have created some question in your mind about what STOP does to prevent such an occurrence. We wanted to share with you our daily routine to prevent such a catastrophic event and how we ensure that you can always access your monitoring data.