Developing Technologies Provide New Options for Community Corrections

The world is in the thick of a developing technological revolution. Constant innovations drive emerging trends which are reshaping everything. In part, this is due to electronics principles like Moore’s Law which calls for progressively smaller and more powerful processors to be built over time. More specifically, Moore’s Law says that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles about every two years, meaning technology is getting smaller, smarter, and faster.

In the community corrections industry, supervising agencies typically use traditional, ankle-worn, electronic monitoring devices to manage community-based individuals on probation or parole. As technology advances, agencies now have access to low-profile, wrist-worn devices and smartphone apps to connect more closely with supervising officers and the critical community resources individuals need to be successful.

As the Market Grows, So Do Technical Innovations

In fact, the wearable market is growing extraordinarily fast across all industries. As a result, the performance gap between medical- and nonmedical-grade wearables is closing, driving growth in multiple wearable device categories.

Forecasts predict that smartwatch dominance will continue to grow going forward. Wrist-worn devices are typically more feature-rich, combining core tracking functionality with more robust connectivity and phone-related features. It’s no surprise that smartwatches make up more than 60% of the wearables market.

In addition, advances in miniaturization are driving the wearables market. Gartner predicts that by 2024, miniaturizing capabilities will advance to the point that 10% of all wearable technologies will become unobtrusive to the user.

This Top AI Technology Is Being Adopted Worldwide

The next technology driving change is biometric facial technology, which is arguably one of the most powerful identification tools ever made.

The terms adaptive facial recognition and biometric facial comparison are often used interchangeably, yet there are key differences between the two methods. Biometric facial comparison confirms identity using a one-to-one matching system, while adaptive facial recognition uses a one-to-many matching system, comparing a real-time photo against large, third-party databases of stored records.

How Community Corrections Can Access These Technologies

For those sanctioned to community corrections, technology has evolved, and the newer products are not as noticeable, physically restrictive, or cumbersome. These advancements enable individuals to move and work in the community more discreetly as they fulfill their release conditions. Agencies are always looking for effective alternatives to detention, so providers are designing more modern supervision tools using emerging technologies that are already available in the commercial wearable markets.

The Latest in BI Continuum of Electronic Monitoring Technologies & Services

BI is building on its 40+ years of experience helping agencies stay ahead of the curve by incorporating the two key technologies mentioned above:

#1 – The continued miniaturization of electronic components

The latest device, BI VeriWatch, includes location sensors and cellular modems small enough to fit in a wrist-worn device. The sensor detects if the device is on or off a person. Features GPS and Wi-Fi to increase location accuracy and preserve battery life.

#2 – The advancement of biometric technology

Leveraging this technology eliminates the need for a strap tamper on this wrist-worn device. The device’s camera works in tandem with biometric facial comparison software to provide strong secondary biometric authentication of the person wearing the device. BI VeriWatch is the first community supervision location tracker to biometrically authenticate the identity of the wearer by comparing a new photo against photos established at enrollment.

Can Text Message Reminders Help Reduce Technical Violations?

Only about half of individuals who are on probation successfully complete their terms, and most unsuccessful probation completions are due to technical violations rather than committing new crimes. In 2020, there were 3.9 million people in the U.S. on probation or parole. This number accounted for 70% of the total correctional population that year. Failing to meet with supervisors is one of the most common technical violations. Individuals are missing their meetings with officers due to work, education, or failure to find transportation. Text message reminders for parole and probation meetings are an easy and inexpensive way to help people stay on track and reduce recidivism.

A November 2022 report, “Addressing Mass Supervision in the United States: How Text Message Reminders Can Help Reduce Technical Violations of Community Supervision”, suggests that sending text message reminders for scheduled appointments could reduce canceled and missed parole and probation appointments by as much as 21% and 29%, respectively.

The report includes results from a 2018 experiment conducted by the Arkansas Department of Corrections, comparing four groups including a control group, an early text group (two days before), a late text group (one day before), and a group that received both the early and late text. Highlights of the experiment include:

  • Individuals who received a late text or received two texts were more likely to successfully attend meetings than individuals who did not receive any text message reminders.
  • Individuals who received late texts were significantly less likely to cancel their appointments.
  • The optimal time to send text message reminders is one day prior to the scheduled appointment.
  • During the six-month period following the experiment, all individuals received text messages one day before their appointments, resulting in 30% fewer missed appointments.

Electronic Monitoring Solutions for Community Supervision

Increase positive outcomes by placing the tools individuals need to be successful and accountable in the palm of their hands. BI Incorporated is proud to be at the forefront of adjusting the way electronic monitoring services are provided. Mobile communication is immediate, convenient, and timesaving for both officers and clients. BI SmartLINK® simplifies communication between clients and officers through easy-to-use two-way communication technology such as messaging and video conference, calendar and resource access, and push notifications. Officers can schedule notifications to remind them about upcoming appointments or court appearances. Plus, virtual check-ins can help eliminate the challenge of finding a ride for an office visit. Learn more

Made in America Matters

BI Incorporated is the largest manufacturer of electronic monitoring systems and has provided innovative technology solutions from Boulder, Colorado, since 1978. We work closely with community corrections agencies monitoring individuals on parole, probation, or pretrial release to help reduce recidivism, enhance public safety, and strengthen the communities we serve.

BI is proud to employ over 1,200 highly trained professionals in the U.S. including manufacturing technicians, call center personnel, engineers, software developers, and more. BI also supports several communities through our local supplier partnerships. All material suppliers are U.S.-based and managed locally, with a focus on small, minority, and disadvantaged enterprises. These local partnerships create employment opportunities for several thousand U.S. workers.

Our in-house manufacturing staff benefit from training programs to maintain and advance their skills. These programs adhere to rigorous Institute for Printed Circuits (IPC) standards that enhance our personnel value and craftsmanship. There are only 3,600 certified IPC trainers globally, and BI is pleased to have one as a full-time asset to our team. BI believes in investing in the future of America’s workforce and hosts an annual technology training program for middle and high school students.

Customer service is a top priority. BI has two internal call centers located in the Midwest to provide 24/7 nationwide coverage and support to meet our public sector partners’ needs. Operating our own call centers gives us an edge in delivering the industry’s highest level of customer service while employing hundreds here in the U.S. Plus, our Original Equipment Manufacturing (OEM) status allows us to directly troubleshoot and replace equipment without sending anything overseas, making our customer service even more efficient and customer friendly.

When you buy American-made, you are not only supporting American workers, but you are also supporting ethical working conditions, workers’ rights, child labor laws, and environmental regulations. U.S. production standards are in place intentionally to protect both workers and consumers. Domestic manufacturers must follow stricter guidelines pertaining to quality control and labor laws. Additionally, shipping products from overseas produces a tremendous amount of fossil fuel emission and pollution. By purchasing American-made goods, you play a part in supporting the economy, environment, and human rights.

Increased Data Security: Progressive Integrations Vital for Today’s Agency Case Management

As innovative technology solutions continue to progress at record speed, measures must be implemented to secure and protect sensitive data. The pace of technological transformation is not slowing down, and new technologies are emerging almost daily. The average life span of software is four to six years, with similar apps lasting less than half of that.1

There has been a global surge of cybersecurity breaches since 2020. The dependency on technology, due to more companies and employees working remotely, presented an opportunity for hackers and made companies extra vulnerable. Notable security breaches in 2021 include Colonial Pipeline, JBS Foods, and Apple’s business partner, Quanta. According to Harvard Business Review, there was an exponential increase in cyberattacks from the previous year. Ransom attacks grew by 150%, and the amount of dollars paid by victims increased by 300%2. The need to develop and implement a proactive approach to security standards and regulations has become the norm across all industries, and this is especially true for community corrections and electronic monitoring where data security is critical.

Today, identity-centric security has become one of the most significant topics in the IT industry. Jay Gazlay, a technical strategist at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency spoke to the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Security and Privacy Advisory board about its importance. “Identity is everything now. We can talk about our network defenses, we can talk about the importance of firewalls and network segmentation, but really, identity has become the boundary, and we need to start readdressing our infrastructures in that manner.”3

Our Approach & Commitment to Security

BI Incorporated works diligently to develop and optimize software solutions that safeguard agency and client data. As the world becomes more digitized and more individuals are released to community supervision, BI prioritized cloud adoption and adding proper layers of security to protect our systems.

Software Enhancements Reduce Security Risks & Benefit Users

Our May BI TotalAccess® software release focused on user authentication and access. Using technology from Okta, the world’s leader for cloud identity management services, BI is equipped to provide a more secure authentication process for users and the ability to provide multi-factor authentication features. These features simplify the log-in process, eliminate the need to remember and/or change passwords, and dramatically reduce the concerns of cybersecurity breaches and unauthorized access to the TotalAccess system.

1Ennis, H. (2019, July 19). National Security and Technology Regulation. Retrieved from https://www2.deloitte.com/xe/en/insights/industry/public-sector/national-security-technology-regulation.html

2Harvard Business Review. (2021, June 2.) Ransomware Attacks Are Spiking. Is Your Company Prepared? Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2021/05/ransomware-attacks-are-spiking-is-your-company-prepared.

3McCullough, C. (2021, May 19). Protecting Agency Assets Begins with Identity-centric Security. Retrieved from https://gcn.com/articles/2021/05/19/identity-centric-security.aspx

BI Incorporated Stays Ahead of the Game as LTE Technology Becomes the Future of Community Corrections

Long-Term Evolution (LTE) is a new buzzword in the technology world, and for good reason. LTE has changed the way the world connects–devices are faster, big data is more accessible, and service seems boundless. Technology is not slowing down, and neither are the software engineers at BI Incorporated.

Since 1987, electronic monitoring devices have utilized the major cellular systems, Global Systems for Mobiles (GSM) and Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA). With the continual advancement of wireless technology, LTE soon replace GSM and CDMA systems. By 2022, the older wireless systems will be obsolete, making electronic monitoring devices without LTE technology practically inoperative.

Key Benefits for Community Corrections

LTE technology uses different radio interfaces to increase capacity and speed resulting in:

  • Higher bandwidth/data speed compared to 3G
  • Low latency/lower idle-to-active times
  • High spectrum efficiency, which provides a higher network capacity and improves cost efficiency
  • Backwards compatibility/futureproofing to increase flexibility and lifespan
  • An all-IP network allows for easier integration and cost-efficiency

While some companies continue to operate equipment using GSM or CDMA systems, BI has worked diligently to integrate LTE into its present and future products, including our GPS, alcohol, and RF solutions. Our partnership with Verizon provides a strategic advantage to the most modern and reliable cellular capabilities in the market. BI continues to lead the community corrections field in an era of rapid technological innovation, and we are committed to delivering reliable and relevant solutions to our state, city, and county partners.

BI LOC8® XT

This rugged and dependable GPS tracking device provides agencies with detailed information about a client’s movement in the community. Key features include Wi-Fi detection ability, LTE technology, and tamper detection capabilities.

BI SL3®

Monitoring for sobriety in discrete and convenient ways helps individuals remain compliant to conditions of release. BI SL3® is a sophisticated, handheld alcohol monitoring device that incorporates powerful technology to drive compliance and accountability.

BI HomeGuard® 20|20

In use for more than 30 years, radio frequency electronic monitoring is used worldwide. This latest innovation from BI takes RF monitoring to a new level, enhancing durability, reliability, and communication to support officers and clients.

Smartphone Monitoring App Technology & Administrative Solutions – Keeping Agencies and Clients Connected During COVID-19

Social-distancing protocols and stay-at-home orders have impacted the way the world functions. Internet services have seen rises in usage from 40% to 100% and video-conferencing services have seen a ten times increase in usage since the onset of COVID-19, demonstrating just how important it is for companies to stay at the forefront of new innovative technology.

What does this mean for community corrections? Not only has the pandemic prevented community supervision officers from meeting clients in person, but it has also increased caseloads as more individuals are being released on probation and parole. As cities, counties, and states continue to navigate the challenges presented by the pandemic, BI Incorporated remains dedicated to providing agencies with quality smartphone monitoring technology and administrative support services to stay efficient and connected.

Smartphone Monitoring Apps

The issue paper released by the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) technology committee, “Leveraging the Power of Smartphone Applications to Enhance Community Supervision,” addresses the positive impact that smartphone applications have on the community supervision process. “Leveraging the power inherent in today’s smartphones, these applications offer a highly flexible tool designed to support a wide variety of supervision objectives depending on the needs of the case. For example, accountability objectives can be achieved through features such as location monitoring, remote reporting, or check-ins. Behavioral change objectives can be facilitated through instant communications with the officer, providing the client with timely access to resources such as programming, and therapeutic counseling via tele-presence.”

Monitoring apps provide a secure platform for communication, anytime, anywhere, BI SmartLINK® has been recognized by criminal justice professionals as a reliable way to supervise and support individuals as they live and work in the community. Amidst COVID-19, SmartLINK has helped agencies interact with clients through secure messaging and two-way video conferencing features. More than 26,000 video conferences were completed by numerous agencies over approximately a six-week period. Along with enhanced communication, SmartLINK is able to streamline and digitize supervision paperwork typically submitted in person. Clients have the ability to upload documents and photos, review officer appointed schedules through a shared calendar, and submit required paperwork. As remote and digital case management services remain in high-demand, SmartLINK can be used in conjunction with electronic monitoring or as an alternative.

Administrative Solutions

Research Triangle Institute (RTI) International and Old Dominion University conducted a study on probation and parole officers’ time expenditure and found that about 52% of an officer’s work hours were spent on administrative case-related tasks. With growing caseloads, centralized data and streamlined case management are vital to keeping communities safe and officers efficient. BI Agency Assist® support services can relieve officers of up to 50% of their clerical or data processing workload, allowing them to spend more time on higher-risk clients. The 24×7 call center increases agency coverage, and our bilingual support center team help reduce and manage the large amount of data officers receive.

Smartphone Monitoring Benefits:

  • Saves officers time with fewer face-to-face meetings and phone calls
  • Records confirmation of client activities and location compliance
  • Provides reminders and tracks client acknowledgement of supervision tasks
  • Confirms client attendance at mandated appointments
  • Allows clients to submit documents electronically, reducing time spend on administrative work

Time-Saving Administrative Services:

  • Contact documentation services offer paperless, convenient data entry
  • Scheduling services track and verify client appointments, process change requests, and validate supporting documentation
  • Enhanced monitoring services handle alerts, send real-time officer notifications, and troubleshoot equipment
  • Client docs is a software module that manages important files and streamlines record-keeping
  • Self-reporting services automate client check-ins using Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology

BI SmartLINK: Keeping Agencies and Clients Connected During COVID-19

The coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic has impacted the criminal justice world in many unprecedented ways, affecting local, state and federal community supervision, in-custody facilities, treatment providers, and more. This unique and challenging situation is forcing us all to adapt, and community corrections officers are tasked with ensuring that all client or offender supervision requirements are still met and progress is made. A tough ask, right?

In 2017, BI Incorporated (BI) released a client-focused smartphone application named BI SmartLINK®, which serves as both a low-risk supervision application and a communication tool that keeps officers or case managers connected with their clients. This application is installed on a participant’s personal device, and offers the following agency features and client support and engagement tools:

  • Secure, in-app messaging and two-way video conferencing
  • Confirm client location using the optional biometric verification
  • Manage client appointments and meeting reminders through the interactive calendar
  • Approve and manage client schedule changes and requests
  • Upload and view case documents and paperwork
  • View and access local community resources

Prior to COVID-19, BI SmartLINK was utilized by clients across local, state, and federal agencies, but enrollments have increased significantly. The pandemic has prevented community supervision officers and case managers from meeting with their clients in person. However, BI has helped agencies continue interacting with clients through the secure, two-way SmartLINK video conferencing feature. More than 26,000 video conferences were successfully completed by numerous agencies over approximately six weeks.

SmartLINK continues to be recognized by criminal justice professionals as a reliable way to manage, support, and empower low-risk individuals. This application encourages and facilitates a meaningful connection with case managers and participants in a modern, discreet fashion. All data collected by the application is only used by case managers or agency officials to ensure participant compliance in the program. As we all continue to navigate the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, officers, case managers, and clients now have an effective, modern tool to keep them engaged and connected.