Archive for the ‘System enhancements’ Category

Is your EM vendor ready for the future?

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

There are many components of an EM system your vendor can control, such as hardware functionality and reliability, but there are also some VERY important components completely out of your vendor’s control. And these aspects are vital to the operation of your monitoring devices: the cellular network and the GPS satellite array.

STOP’s Engineering Team spent the past year working to enhance the functionality of our primary GPS monitoring device and our enhanced RF monitoring device to make sure we were ready for the upcoming cellular network changes our equipment uses to report into our software.

You may not be aware that cellular carriers are in the process of shutting down their 2G networks, which is necessitated by the data demands of consumers. Because of the timely action taken internally, our equipment now communicates on 3G networks using a choice of GSM and CDMA cellular carriers. As we continue transitioning to the AT&T and Verizon networks, our partner agencies do not need to be concerned about the impending 2G cellular network shutdown. However, many EM equipment vendors have not made the transition and there is a real risk to agencies and their EM programs using those systems.

The GPS game has also changed. The U.S. is one of numerous other countries operating a GPS satellite array. Russia, China and European nations have developed or are developing their own GPS satellite arrays. And the U.S. is deploying the next generation of GPS satellites. Our equipment is ready to use all of these systems to enhance location acquisition and improve GPS accuracy.

BLUtag now has shock sensors, anti-jamming and jamming detection, Wi-Fi sniffing, shielding detection, and I can go on. What does your vendor’s EM system offer?

Customer-focus = new functionality, new service

Monday, November 9th, 2015

As a customer-focused Company, STOP continually places the needs of government agency partners as the highest priority. Since our founding, our goal has always been to provide the best offender tracking system available. As our system enhancements have developed, we looked to expand the services we provide to agency partners.

The expansion of our service offerings began with Monitoring Center, where STOP managed key events for agencies. This service includes communicating with the officer and/or offender to correct behavior and, if necessary, escalate back to the agency for further action and/or possible sanction.

The next service offered was installing and removing equipment for agency partners whose resources were already stretched and supervising officers needed that level of support. STOP used a contractor to provide this service for some projects, but as the number of requests for the service increased, STOP and our parent company, Securus Technologies, Inc., decided to purchase the contractor so we could directly benefit from the expertise of the managers who provided this service.

Another service added was the ability to directly invoice and receive payment from offenders who are supervised by our partner agencies. Securus Technologies has provided payment services to their customers for many years, so we tapped into this area of expertise to create a service that meets the varying needs of our government agency partners. Integration from VeriTracks to Securus Online makes payment collection and processing easy and quick for the offender. They have access to 24-hour technical support and the ability to make payments online 24 hours a day (available to those offenders with Internet access).

Our government agency partners have known they can depend on STOP to listen to their needs and develop viable solutions. This strong commitment to our customers and meeting their evolving needs will not change. And we ll continue to proactively search for system functionality and services that can help improve the community supervision programs our agency partners operate.

2013 Training Institute: Intensive training for agents

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

I ve written before about the importance of training for an agency"s employees who will implement and operate a GPS monitoring program. A GPS device, no matter its capabilities, is a tool and agents must know how to use it properly to achieve an agency"s goals.

At STOP, one of our priorities is providing our customers with a range of resources so agents gain a comprehensive knowledge about how our hardware and software function individually and collectively. One resource is our annual Training Institute, which took place in Atlanta earlier this month.

More than 70 agencies and independent service providers were represented with the 137 agents. The attendees received 10 hours of training on our enrollee monitoring system. Our customers chose to attend three of the four breakout sessions.

  • VeriTracks: The Next Generation — Customers learned about the next generation of VeriTracks and its functionality.

    Attendees gather around our BLU+ blow-up at the end of the breakout session on our newest enrollee monitoring device.

  • BLU+: The RF Alternative — This year we introduced BLU+ (blu-plus), which is a new RF monitoring device with location capability, which allows supervising agents to confirm enrollees entered a designed location on time without the use of a mobile monitoring unit.
  • Witness Testimony Preparation — Supervising agents frequently provide courtroom testimony for enrollee violations. This session highlighted the information needed to articulate the basics of GPS technology in a courtroom setting. The agenda included reviewing commonly asked cross examination questions.
  • Talking With Elected Officials So They Listen — Elected official are frequently part of an agency"s stakeholder audience. This session provided tools to help agency directors and leaders have productive discussions with elected officials, as well as possible sources for alternative funding.

Franklin County, Ohio, award

We also recognized a few customers as having an outstanding GPS enrollee monitoring program. The awardees for 2013 are Charlevoix County Probation and Family Court (Michigan), Superior Court Social Services Division (District of Columbia), Dekalb County Sheriff’s Department (Illinois), Franklin County Municipal Court (Ohio), Tehama County Probation Department (California) and Tehama County Sheriff’s Department (California). We congratulate these and all of our customers on their enrollee monitoring programs that help maintain high levels of enrollee accountability and community safety.

Our customers returned home with new skills and information that will help them use our enrollee monitoring system more effectively so they can help keep their communities safe. For more information about the 2014 Training Institute, contact STOP at info@stopllc.com.

2011 will soon be over, welcome 2012!

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

2011 was a difficult year for most government agencies. Budgets were cut, long term employees were offered early retirement and released offenders struggled to find jobs making many resort to crime again.

However, there was some good news in 2011. Many correctional and supervision agencies were forced to rethink how they handle their huge prison populations. Most polls indicate citizens are tired of huge correctional budgets and cutting education funding to pay to incarcerate so many people. There is a mindset shift to finally deal with those offenders whom we are simply mad at in a different way than those whom we are "scare of.

We should continue to have strong laws protecting us from those offenders who would make it hard to relax in our community or sleep at night if they were roaming the streets. However, it’s time to recognize some offenders can be punished for their crime yet be rehabilitated and pay restitution to the victim or court and maintain or strengthen family connections.

At STOP, we ve been fortunate to help many agencies as they ve shifted their handling of offender populations. Many now use GPS as the effective supervision tool on all ranges of offenders. And when Automated Crime Scene Correlation is used, agencies have the most effective supervision tool available.

STOP added more than 100 agencies as new customers in 2011. These programs range from five-unit programs that had never used GPS or RF before to 1,500-unit programs using other electronic monitoring equipment. This was an amazing year and a test for our outstanding team members. I"m happy to say I d give them all an A (even without a curve).

2012 will be another great year for STOP. We re positioned to expand our portfolio of equipment, reimagine our software interface and add features and options not available in the industry today.

On behalf of STOP, I wish you a safe and happy holiday season!

Why agencies choose STOP with confidence

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Earlier this month, I listed 10 things agencies should consider before changing vendors. Now comes the easy part for me: explaining why agencies confidently choose Satellite Tracking of People as their new provider of GPS and RF enrollee monitoring system and services.

(1) Budget STOP consistently offers our products and services at or below competitor prices. And when agencies do dig a little deeper into pricing, STOP comes out as the best value almost every time. There are no additional costs for anything we do. What"s included?

– Shipping
– Reasonable levels of shelf/spare equipment
– Certification letters for court activities relating to the location of an enrollee(s)
– Consumables (straps, strap clips, etc.
– On-site and online training courses

So making a budget is simple. Multiply STOP"s per diem by the number of people you supervise by 365 days will give you the maximum STOP will charge your agency.

(2) Ease of Transition STOP recently completed two transitions from one vendor"s system to ours and collectively involved more than 2,000 devices. This was done over a seven-week period with the assistance from more than eight STOP staff members. We provided all the necessary on-site training courses, training materials, transition personnel, devices and technical services and support.

(3) References Just ask, and I"ll send you a list!

(4) System functionality VeriTracks, STOP"s software application, is 100% internet based. There is no risk of viruses, security breaches or malicious software invading your agency"s IT system or individual computers. Our system is also customizable for your specific needs. There are options your agency may choose not to use on day 1, but introduce at a later date. Also, VeriTracks can customize the alerts you receive, allowing you to focus on the highest priority items.

(5) Latest technology STOP is on version 5 of our GPS device and version 2 of our RF device. Each time we upgrade our devices, we provide them at no additional charge to the agency.

(6) Equipment functions Test our equipment and entire system for two weeks free. We ll provide all the training and supplies necessary for you to effectively put our system through its paces. Our support team will provide daily support by reviewing tracks, alerts, etc., so you fully understand how our equipment and services work.

(7) Geographic and environmental circumstances STOP provides multiple cellular carriers to give you the best coverage possible. Also, since our hardware is small, there is little need for large storage closets or cabinets for shelf stock. And we ship our equipment in minimal packaging to reduce our footprint in your offices and impact on the environment.

(8) Communication after implementation STOP"s implementation and service doesn t stop after the devices are installed on enrollees. We also provide proactive customer assistance and support for up to 90 days after installing equipment on enrollees. During this time, our technical support agents contact agency officers daily to discuss their caseloads and to offer suggestions for improving compliance or additional training. This is provided at no additional charge.

(9) Staff support Most agency officers who participate in the testing our equipment in preparation of possible switching to our system understand the benefits of it. It is vital for officers who will use the equipment and software have first-hand experience using it prior to the agency switching. If officers feel like they need more time than the usual two-week free trial of our system, we gladly provide it. We know it is important to the overall success of transitioning from one vendor"s system to ours that frontline officers feel comfortable and have confidence in the prospective system.

(10) Trust — We’ll earn your trust from Day 1. You’ll just have to trust me on this one …

Now that the advantages of STOP are spelled out what are you waiting for?!

10 Things an Agency Should Consider When Changing EM Providers

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

As the electronic monitoring industry has matured, government agencies and service providers are changing vendors more frequently. There are some very important questions agency directors should ask before making a change. I ve broken the questions down into 10 subject areas.

  1. Budget How much does the equipment and service REALLY cost? Are there hidden costs that will make it hard for my agency to operate within its budget? Are there additional fees for monitoring services, on-site inventory, insurance, data transmissions, shipping, court testimony, etc.? If my agency needs to put 25 offenders on Electronic Monitoring, will I end up being able to afford only 20 when all other costs are factored into the total price? How much will it cost in staffing and other direct costs?
  2. Ease of Transition Will the prospective vendor provide services to assist with the transition? Will the vendor provide all necessary training and support services?
  3. References What are other agencies saying about the prospective vendor"s service/support and system?
  4. System functionality Will my current computers and communication system support the prospective vendor"s software application? Do I risk catching malware/spyware/viruses with downloading or installing software on individual computers? Are there limitations on accessing the vendor"s software application?
  5. Latest technology If a product is enhanced, will I receive the enhancement under the terms and conditions of my contract with the prospective vendor?
  6. Equipment functions Can I test the equipment on actual offenders prior to signing a contract? Do the features I test meet the specifications provided by the vendor?
  7. Geographic circumstances Is there good cellular phone coverage in my area to run an effective program? Are there limitations concerning where I can use the equipment due to space or access to proper utilities?
  8. Communication after implementation Are there any services the new vendor will provide after the initial implementation to reinforce training or system understanding? Do I have a dedicated account manager who can assist outside of normal technical support?
  9. Staff support Is my staff supportive of a change? Were they involved with the selection process? Do they see the value a new vendor can bring to our program?
  10. Trust Can I trust the vendor to perform as they pitched during the sale? What assurances do I have the program will succeed with the new vendor?

If your vendor struggles with answering your questions" look again.

My next entry will explain how STOP can answer all these questions and more

2011 Training Institute Space City Success

Friday, October 7th, 2011
Satellite Tracking of People"s annual Training Institute just concluded in our hometown, Houston, a.k.a. "space City. More than 120 attendees from 67 agencies received advanced training on our monitoring system, heard about new developments with our software and hardware and shared suggestions with us so we can develop our road map for future activities.

My coworkers conducted training in subjects ranging from the basics of our software and services to utilizing evidence-based practices to increase funding and for program justification. While at the Training Institute, attendees also networked with each other and talked about how their programs operate and learned from the success of others.

I also had the opportunity to introduce a new product coming in 2012 and new strap attachments. This new device and attachment will make the coming year something great for STOP. I can t wait to talk more about them!

It was my hope the Training Institute attendees learned something new, enjoyed the views of Minute Maid Park and understood STOP"s commitment to their success and that of their agency. See you next year.