Posts Tagged ‘satellite tracking’

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?

Michigan House approve GPS for pretrial defendants

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Michigan"s House of Representatives recently passed HB 4197 making it possible for the state to use GPS monitoring technology on a new group of defendants. The legislation passed in Lansing would allow judges to consider electronic monitoring for all individuals awaiting trial for an assault charge. Currently, the only option in such cases is keeping defendants in jail until their trial date. The state currently allows electronic monitoring for those awaiting trial for domestic violence charges.

This piece of legislation is ready for a third reading by the Senate and must be signed by the Governor before it can go into effect. In addition, Michigan"s leaders need to develop precise guidelines to determine who is eligible for GPS monitoring instead of incarceration. If the bill can overcome these obstacles, it will provide a useful tool that will benefit the state"s justice system.

If made available, GPS monitoring would make it possible for an individual awaiting trial to continue his/her life while waiting for his/her case to go to trial. In some cases, this technology makes the difference between a defendant continue working and providing for the family and losing his/her job because he/she is held in jail. The real-time supervision made possible by GPS monitoring helps maintain a high level of community safety while keeping the defendant accountable for his/her movements.

There are many aspects to successfully maintaining community safety. Providing security while preserving the rights of all individuals is a challenging task. It is a task that requires agencies to use every possible tool. GPS monitoring technology is an effective tool that can assist agencies with meeting many of their responsibilities, which includes public safety and offender accountability.

GPS technology isn t just for enrollees considered high risk

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

GPS monitoring equipment is a viable supervision tool for enrollees with any risk level, which is demonstrated in a recent incident involving a juvenile in Marion County, Indiana. Even though the juvenile suspected of participating in a two-county crime spree was on electronic monitoring, it was RF technology. It is designed to report only when an enrollee is home and when he/she leaves. Marion County has four GPS monitoring devices that are reserved for juveniles classified as high risk.

So, here"s a juvenile not classified as high risk, yet he"s a suspect in fives crimes committed in two counties. Based on his curfew schedule, he left home on time in the morning. This didn t generate any kind of notification because he was complying with his supervision requirements. However, what the juvenile"s probation officer didn t know until much later was the juvenile never arrived at a school and became a suspect in several crimes.

Generally when enrollees are placed on RF monitoring, the supervising agent must drive around the jurisdiction at various times of the day and night with a mobile monitoring unit to confirm the enrollee is at the location he"s required to be at that time, such as school, work or home.

As the news story points out, staffing shortages hamper the Marion County Juvenile Probation Department"s ability to keep tabs on juveniles 24 hours a day. Additionally, the story points out some juveniles think nothing will happen if they violate their supervision requirements because they re not monitored all day every day.

BLUtag GPS Monitoring Device

GPS monitoring devices track the movements of subjects on a 24/7 basis and can help keep enrollees stay compliant with their supervision requirements. If they aren t compliant, these devices immediately notify supervising agents through email or text message.

In addition to tracking an enrollee’s movements, GPS technology allows an agency to identify specific areas where the enrollee must be, such as school or work, and places he must avoid, such as parks or shopping malls, during certain hours of the day.

Understandably, supervising agencies need cost-effective ways to increase the accountability of enrollees. The around-the-clock tracking capability of GPS devices provides a way for agencies to use its resources wisely and maintain community safety.

Finally, a new outcomes study released

Friday, July 13th, 2012

It"s been years since a significant study of the efficacy of GPS on reducing recidivism and increasing compliance was completed and released. The original large-scale study was released in the mid-2000"s and nothing had been completed until recently. On March 31, 2012, Development Services Group, Inc. released a 100-page report on Monitoring High-Risk Sex Offenders with GPS Technology: An Evaluation of the California Supervision Program. This report was prepared through a grant from the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

Although I found it an interesting read, to cut to the chase, the study showed, although slightly more expensive than traditional supervision, GPS monitoring improved program compliance and reduced recidivism when compared to the control group.

Important points of the report include the size of the study and the approach the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) takes to supervise parolees in the community. The Department provides an intensive supervision model few agencies employ, with lower case loads, available treatment programs and progressive sanctions.

I suggest you take some time to read this report and see how STOP can help you put together a program as successful as CDCR"s. The study can be found at https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/238481.pdf.

GPS Jamming – Isn’t that illegal?

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

I know it may come as a surprise that some of the individuals our customer’s supervise may commit illegal acts while on supervision. Good supervision techniques catch most offender’s illegal activities, but what can the GPS device on their ankle tell you? Yes, it tells the locations the offender frequents and the route he or she took to get there. But what if the offender doesn’t want you to know where he is?

Recently, there has been an increase in awareness of the presence of GPS jammers by law enforcement agencies. These ILLEGAL devices are available through many distribution channels and their cost has decreased to a point where many people can afford them.

BluTag GPS Monitoring Device

First, yes, they are illegal to own and operate. It is a violation of Federal law. Second, they have limited range and functionality. Third, BluTag, STOP’s GPS monitoring device, can tell you if an offender is attempting to jam the GPS signal. No other GPS monitoring device available on the market today can provide this information.

Using proprietary technology, BluTag can send you a notification when an offender may be attempting to jam the GPS signals. The device detects and reports the presence of and as a tool helps you look for patterns in the offender’s behavior and habits. This notification is similar to our Shielding event, but is more frequently used for detecting behavioral patterns.

You should want to know this information. STOP can provide it. Call us: 866-525-8824.

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.

Strengthening domestic violence protection orders with GPS

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Domestic violence has always been an issue, but in recent years it’s been the focus of more attention from legislators and media outlets. I knew domestic violence was a relatively common event, but I was surprised to learn the number of victims. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states one in four women in the United States suffers from physical, emotional and sexual attacks by partners in her lifetime.

Between July 2009 and May 2010, a large California county family court system issued more than 5,300 temporary restraining orders related to domestic violence cases. These cases didn’t involve divorce or criminal behavior as an underlying reason.

STOP recently released Stalker Alert, a victim notification device, that’s used in conjunction with BluTag.

Defendants who are court-ordered to have their movements tracked by BluTag must follow the rules and restrictions associated with an order of protection and any other legal warrants. At the same time, the victim’s provided with a Stalker Alert device and educated on using it.

Most GPS devices today rely on static areas where the defendant’s ordered to stay away from. With Stalker Alert, the orders of protection allow a buffer zone to follow the victim as he/she live their lives. They aren’t restricted to stay in their home because they will be alerted of the defendant’s violation of the protection order.

In the event the defendant comes within a predetermined distance of the victim, Stalker Alert generates an alert, which is sent to the victim and the supervising officer and law enforcement if necessary. This customizable notification device may allow the victim to implement his/her personal protection plan and request assistance.

Any option allowing better notification to a victim regarding potential conflict is worth the investment.

The need for speed

Monday, June 21st, 2010

In the recent customer survey (quick side note: the more people who respond, the better STOP gets), one of the more common issues brought up was the speed of VeriTracks. We hear you and are working on options as I write this post.

But I want to provide a little color on our system and why some people think it’s slow. VeriTracks is written for the world of Web 2.0, which provides a dynamic environment for you on the web. Remember back in the day (not that long ago), every website was just text with the occasional picture? Now we have Flash movies (pretty standard, just don’t tell Apple), annoying music, pulsating advertisements, crazy backgrounds and other web advancements that make me long for the days of just banner ads.

VeriTracks is written in Java script, allowing for quick movement within the application and rapid recall of loaded information. Where we get criticized for being slow, we make up with more information that’s accessible in an extremely short period of time when fully loaded. Think about the Supervision tab. Within it you can look at all your offenders, which can be two or 200. We load that information once and allow you to return to it without having to reload, thus" improving your experience in VeriTracks.

Other tracking applications are linear. They may appear quicker at first, but you can only do one thing at a time. Within VeriTracks, you can enroll someone, review current enrollees, check inventory and run a bunch of reports simultaneous. In other applications, you have to go to the menu and select what you want to do first. Then go back to the menu and select what you want to do next. That doesn’t seem fast too me or efficient.

Now that I’ve provided some background on why we chose Java script for VeriTracks 10.0, we’re working on ways to rev up the application. One way is with Google Chrome. There are limitations for many agencies to use Chrome, but that browser was written for Java script. Google saw the future and created a great browser. However, some items within VeriTracks don’t work properly and we’re addressing that in subsequent releases.

On another positive note, Microsoft is great at copying and Internet Explorer 9.0 works even better (coming soon to a computer near you in 2011 or in government speed 2014). We are also working on tweaking the internal code of certain frequently used screens to make a noticeable difference with current versions of Internet Explorer.

STOP strives to make your job of supervision as efficient and effective as possible. We provide more tools to you than any other monitoring company. There are trade offs and now we want to make sure that everyone is happy.

Streetview in VeriTracks

Friday, June 18th, 2010

In the June 3rd release of VeriTracks 10.5, we added Streetview by GoogleMaps" to your viewing options. Streetview allows easy review of locations that are unfamiliar to you. The map displays what it looks" like when you drive by the location in your car. This should help you better understand the environment your enrollee"s are hanging out in.

And when investigations determine that your enrollee is in an area where he shouldn t be, you can now integrate the Streetview images into a print out. This can be used for court and administrative hearings, as well as case file documentation.

The ability to print maps from VeriTracks was a frequent request and we didn t want to just print the map from the screen. We wanted to provide you with the most information available about your enrollee"s whereabouts. Now with the print out showing location points and Streetview images, it gives the most complete picture of his location.

Now, if we can only find a way to make those images include the activities of the enrollee …