Posts Tagged ‘system functionality’

2015 Training Institute: New format still produces great success

Saturday, October 10th, 2015

Satellite Tracking of People LLC hosted its 9th Training Institute in Denver, Colorado. The format of the Institute changed slightly this year based on attendee feedback from previous Institutes.

Eighty-eight people were invited to attend, representing 43 partner agencies. This year attendees arrived the afternoon prior to the first day of the conference. They were entertained through dinner with the start of an online game that lasted through the Institute. The first day of the conference was a full day of interactive learning and discussion sessions.

I introduced STOP"s focus for 2016: Informatics. STOP currently has three tent-pole components of Informatics and will expand on them throughout next year. The three main components are:

Timeline This is an easy to read graphical representation of an enrollee"s activities, which can be reviewed daily, weekly or monthly. Within a given time increment, the enrollees are highlighted allowing the supervising agent/officer to quickly look for patterns or areas of concern.

Associations This feature shows enrollees who are together at the same location during the same period of time. Many agencies prohibit their enrollees from being in contact with each other. If any enrollees are at the same location during any given timeframe, an icon displays on the Visit for each of the enrollees. Supervising agents/officers simply click on the icon and immediately know the identity of each enrollee at the location and their arrival/departure time.

Crime Scene Correlation STOP developed crime scene correlation more than 10 years ago and we enhance its functionality annually. This year"s addition was the ability to do a spatial query over a designated geographic region. No address is necessary to determine if an enrollee was near the scene of a crime or near and area where a suspected incident occurred.

During the Institute, attendees received 10 hours of training that is not available anytime outside of the event. The discussion-driven courses were interactive and participatory to increase attendee involvement."sTOP also gained valuable suggestions to improve our products and services by the attendees.

The 2016 Training Institute is tentatively planned to be in San Diego, California in September or October. We have a lot to live up to the expectations set by our previous Institutes, but we look forward to showcasing STOP again next year.

Equipment testing is important why?

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times prompted me to think about how agencies test (or don t test) equipment prior to contract execution.

The article chronicled the extensive testing an agency conducted on a recent procurement. Without the testing that was undertaken, the agency may have chosen the wrong device to meet its needs.

During a procurement process, it"s best to tailor your equipment testing and evaluations to match the ways in which the devices will actually be used. While national standards are being drafted today, they fail to meet the specific and individual needs of most agencies. The standards apply uniform criteria for hardware and software performance to all agencies and their target population(s). You can use these standards as a guide, but ideally you’ll create procurement specifications that will lead to the device best meeting your agency’s needs.

A few ways you might customize testing/evaluation:

What are the target population demographics? Research shows juveniles wait the longest to recharge their device, and often do not follow a charging schedule. A long battery life and long notification period to correct the situation are necessary for this population. When supervising high risk offenders GPS collection rate and download rates may be important.

Does your area have any unique geographic features? Receiving GPS signals may be affected by geographical features. When you test the devices, see how the unique aspects of your community, such as mountains, skyscrapers or parking garages, affect the device"s functionality. Does the vendor have options to assist with these situations?

How is the cell phone coverage in your area? The level of cell phone coverage in your area could impact a device"s performance. If this is a concern, test each device with this in mind. If you have limited cell phone coverage, an option such as our BLUhome unit merits consideration. What provider has the best cell phone coverage?

The factors to consider when designing your testing are varied and affected by numerous considerations. However, the long-term benefits of using an effective testing program in conjunction with cost considerations and written proposals to select a provider are worth the effort.

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

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.

Tracking Success: more than our tagline

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Many of you may have noticed a new tagline for STOP, Tracking Success. The rollout of our tagline is an important step toward actively communicating our commitment to you, our customers, and your clients.

Tracking Success takes on many meanings for STOP. The obvious correlation is our products and how they provide the best tracking, which in turn creates higher levels of client accountability and community safety and, ultimately, resulting in successful programs. But our tagline also shows STOP’s commitment to the success of your clients. VeriTracks includes many functions that can help you effectively track clients and their successful completion of a monitoring or community supervision program.

Also, using GPS or RF monitoring has shown better compliance by clients, allowing for more success in their lives as well. We want to highlight these successes and show how our products and services make your people and programs successful. A major initiative for our 2010 Training Institute was the introduction of evidence-based practices using our products and services. This was only the fist step in showing participating agencies how to highlight their successes with GPS and RF monitoring.

Tracking Success and its correlations will take on a more prominent role in our communications with you. Our tagline is part of STOP employees email signatures, marketing materials, web site and most pieces distributed to current and future customers. Its prominence in our communications allows us to reinforce our commitment to success programs, customers and clients.

Training Institute: Successful Communication and Commaraderie

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Similar to the Company tag line, Tracking Success, our recent Training Institutes continued a track record of success perhaps more successful than in the past because of using a new format. Over 70 agencies gathered in San Diego, California, and Chicago, Illinois, to learn more about our products and services. And, most important to me, the attendees provided valuable feedback on our products and services, so can make sure they meet our customers’ needs.

During the day-and-a-half conference, I learned so much more about you, our customers, including how you use our systems and how STOP may meet all of your electronic monitoring needs. The sessions focusing on our future releases and the necessary specifics to ensure your own Tracking Success were insightful and provided STOP with a clearer road map for new and enhanced functionality.

I hope the new contacts you made with fellow colleagues and peers during our evening activities lead to a valuable resource for bouncing ideas off of, collaborating and problem solving. Of course our STOP staff members are available at anytime to discuss your programs, but I realize some of you need additional information from fellow agencies to better utilize our products and services.

Our staff members at the Institutes were energized and pleased with the outcome and look forward to following-up and implementing your suggestions in future products and service s. Please remember: we want to hear from you any time you have an issue or a comment. My phone number and email address are always available.