Summer Correctional Conferences: See You Soon

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Our BI team will hit the road to meet with customers and industrial professionals in coming weeks and months. If you attend any of these correctional conferences, please stop by to say hello. We’d love to fill you in on the latest in technology and related monitoring services.

Upcoming shows we’ll attend include:

  • APPA, Aug 3-6: The American Probation and Parole Association hosts its annual summer training institute in New Orleans this year. APPA conducts the largest national training institute for community corrections offering workshops, special sessions, resource expo, and networking opportunities tailored to your needs. You will be exposed to discussions on the latest theories and examine the newest technologies as you connect to your peers in enjoyable networking opportunities. Learn more
  • ACA, Aug. 15-20: The American Correctional Association hosts its annual summer conference in Salt Lake City this year. ACA’s conferences are some of the largest and most diverse for correctional professionals, offering an opportunity for workshops, presentations and exhibit hours that help community corrections professionals to stay abreast of the latest in best practices and technology.
  • NAPSA, Sept. 7-10: NAPSA’s 42nd Annual Conference and Training Institute is less than two months away! This year’s conference is being held at the Hyatt Regency in Denver, Colorado and is appropriately themed “Taking Pretrial to New Heights”. The general sessions will focus on: The Colorado Story, Smarter Justice – The Smart Pretrial Demonstration Initiative, The 30th Anniversary of the Bail Reform Act, and Partners in Pretrial Reform. Make sure to take advantage of the conference program by registering before August 1st to receive the reduced early registration rate. Below are some helpful links for information about the conference and traveling to Denver. Learn more.
Posted in Industry News

BI Viewpoint: Interview with Mike Cooke

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Mike-Cooke-BI-Principal-Systems-EngineerMike Cooke

Principal Software Solutions Architect at BI Incorporated 

Q. Tell us a little about your background. How did you come to work for BI?

I first came to BI in 1999 as consultant for AVICA Incorporated to work on a new case management system, which ended up being turned into the AccuTrax system. The new system was to be a web application – something very rare in 1999. I worked with a small team of consultants and BI employees for about a year on the project. As the project was coming closer to completion, I was given the opportunity to apply for a full-time position as Senior Software Engineer. I was lucky enough to get the job in September 2000 and have been working for the development group ever since.

Q. Please describe your work and a typical week?

A typical work week for me involves working closely with the business and the development team to create the right solutions and maintain the integrity of the systems we work on. We start at the very beginning of the process, working directly with the marketing department and product management to break down the business needs into functional requirements. The functional requirements represent the agreement between business and development about what we will be delivering. This is a collaborative effort that really continues throughout the development life cycle.

When I am not working on requirements, I am working directly with the development team to design the technical solutions. This is always a team effort, taking the best ideas from everyone involved, to come up with a workable solution that meets the business requirements. I spend a fair amount of time researching and working with the various technologies available to determine the best course of action for a development effort. In short, I work with a great group of software engineers solving problems and producing the best software we can.

Q. What is your top priority in this role?

The number one priority in my role is to provide technical solutions for business needs within the organization. It is my job, along with my coworkers’, to ensure that technical solutions are delivered with the highest quality and provide the most value to the business.

Q. Can you tell us about Pursuit Mode, the latest ExacuTrack® One option?

Pursuit Mode is a really interesting feature. Officers can take a client being monitored on an ET1 device and invoke Pursuit Mode through our newly updated mobile application. Taking this action essentially tells the ET1 device to capture a GPS coordinate every 15 seconds and to report that information to the host system every minute, regardless of the configured reporting interval.

Officers can use this feature to in effect “track” the client in real time. Used in conjunction with the improved BI mobile application, the officer has access to a dynamic mapping of the client’s movements, indicating their location on a minute-by-minute basis while in Pursuit Mode. This feature can be used to direct officers in the field to the client’s whereabouts, even if they are moving at a high rate of speed and are actively trying to avoid detection. This capability is a natural extension of our existing location and mapping features in TotalAccess.

The development team was able to deliver this feature in a very short time frame by composing existing TotalAccess capabilities into a seemingly all-new capability. The ability to put the ET1 device into an elevated reporting state has always been a feature of the Exclusion Zone Processing in TotalAccess.  Locate Client is a feature for reaching out to the device and forcing it to contact the host. Those existing capabilities combined with some of the built-in state management functionality in TotalAccess, allowed us to compose and deliver a whole new feature without a large development effort.

This ability to deliver new features by combining existing capabilities is very powerful. The team is focused on continuing to produce solutions that can be reused and combined with other features to create even more solutions in the future.

Q. What is your favorite part of your work?

My favorite part of the job is working closely with such a talented team, brainstorming solutions for the business. I really enjoy the collaborative nature of the job. I work with very smart and creative engineers and there is never a single person who defines an entire solution. In this field you never stop learning. Software engineering is always moving very fast, new technologies are being introduced all the time. I love the fact that we are always exposed to new technologies and new approaches to solving problems. I really thrive on the problem-solving aspect of my job – I am often most engaged when the solutions are not straightforward and require creativity and tenacity to resolve. I also enjoy working for a company that provides a valuable service to society and does not just make widgets to sell.

This interview originally appeared in BI’s Viewpoint email newsletter.

Posted in Industry News, Monitoring Operations

California bill would expand electronic monitoring in the state

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ETOne_BlueA state legislator has introduced a bill in California that would expand GPS electronic monitoring programs in the state as a response to Public Safety Realignment, also known as the AB 109 legislation.

The bill, AB 2499, would allow county sheriffs and county boards of supervisors to expand their electronic monitoring programs to include former state prisoners who were sent to county jails after AB 109 took effect.

AB 109 shifted the responsibility for thousands of prisoners from the state to county jails with the goal of reducing California’s prison overcrowding—a mandate of the United States Supreme Court.

AB 2499 was introduced by 14th District State Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla who said the bill is intended for non-violent offenders, stating that it is “an opportunity to make sure that there’s room for the prisoners that actually need to be behind bars.”

BI Incorporated works with multiple counties in California to provide electronic monitoring technology, including GPS monitoring, and monitoring support. Electronic monitoring, which is more cost-effective than incarceration, helps probation officials keep offenders on track and in compliance with court-ordered sanctions.

As Assemblywoman Bonilla indicated, electronic monitoring also frees up space in the county jails for offenders convicted of violent crimes and helps to reduce overcrowding.

BI provides reliable GPS tracking technology like the BI ExacuTrack® One, an ankle-mounted tracking device that relies on available GPS data and other location monitoring technologies to accurately track an offender’s movement within their community.

Read AB 2499—which passed the state assembly in May—in full here.

Posted in Monitoring Operations, Monitoring Technology

Electronic monitoring on the rise in North Carolina

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BI ExacuTrack OneThe use of electronic monitoring is on the rise in North Carolina, where BI Incorporated has a contract with the Department of Public Safety to provide electronic monitoring technology and support.

Recently, BI’s approach and monitoring products—including the BI ExacuTrack One, BI’s tamper-resistant, ankle-mounted GPS monitoring unit—were profiled in a feature by the Times News.

The article indicates electronic monitoring has gained popularity in the state thanks in large part to improved technology and reporting and a new state law that requires certain sex offenders to be placed under GPS monitoring. The low cost, particularly when compared to the high price of incarceration, was another motivating factor.

The technology is also a time-saver for probation and parole officers who are able to easily access BI’s computer system to review supervised offenders in real time.

In addition to the ExacuTrack One, BI provides the department with the HomeGuard® 200 and HomeGuard 206, systems that monitor schedules and curfews via radio frequency and cellular technologies, respectively, BI TotalAccess® software for supervising officers to access and update offender data through a secure website and BI Monitoring Operations, BI’s 24/7 national monitoring center, which offers technical and customer support.

For many correctional agencies, electronic monitoring is a cost-effective way to hold offenders accountable for their actions while assisting with community safety. BI partners with agencies across the nation to provide reliable tracking technology and support so supervising officers can rest assured that they will be accurately updated on the location of monitored offenders.

In addition to the article above, the use of electronic monitoring in Guilford County, North Carolina, was recently featured in TWC News. BI works with Guilford County to provide electronic monitoring, while BI’s sister company, GEO Reentry Services, partners with the county to provide a day reporting center designed to help offenders successfully reenter society.

Posted in Monitoring Operations, Monitoring Technology

Missouri renews contract with BI Incorporated

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MDOC-patchThe Missouri Department of Corrections Division of Probation and Parole has renewed a multi-year contract for approximately 800 electronic monitoring products and related monitoring services with BI Incorporated. BI has worked in partnership with the Missouri DOC since 2009.

The contract will include many different BI systems that can be matched to an offender’s assessed risk level, including radio frequency, GPS tracking and alcohol monitoring systems.

Several BI systems will be included as part of the contract, including GPS tracking for offenders who require extra monitoring data, traditional electronic monitoring systems and alcohol monitoring technologies.

The electronic monitoring program is one of several cost-effective options that used to provide additional intervention, sanctions and structure for offenders so they are more likely to succeed upon release.

Missouri’s electronic monitoring program is used to provide structure and control of offenders just released from prison or those on probation, parole or conditional release that are failing to comply with the conditions of supervision. Missouri DOC officials believe that electronic monitoring technology is another helpful tool in promoting offender success while on supervision.

Under terms of this agreement, the specific BI systems the state will use include:

  • BI ExacuTrack® One, a sophisticated GPS tracking systems that allow supervising officers to monitor offender movement as they travel in the community.
  • BI HomeGuard® 200 and BI HomeGuard 206®, systems that monitor offenders for home curfews and schedules using landlines or cellular connections.
  • BI TAD® and BI Sobrietor®, two alcohol monitoring systems. TAD is unique in that it provides continuous alcohol monitoring through an ankle bracelet with radio frequency monitoring.
  • BI VoiceID®, a voice verification system that uses biometric voiceprints to verify a person’s location through a series of phone calls.
  • Drive-BI®, a handheld device that allows officers to check on an individual from outside a home, school or workplace.
  • BI TotalAccess®, software that allows officers to manage offender profiles and schedules directly through a password-protected Web site.
  • BI Monitoring Operations center, BI’s 24/7 national monitoring center that supports agency staff as needed.


Posted in Industry News, Monitoring Operations, Monitoring Technology

Pursuit Mode added to BI ExacuTrack One GPS tracking system

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BI ExacuTrack One

Pursuit Mode, a new feature that allows correctional agencies to intensively monitor an offender for a customized period of time, is now available with the BI ExacuTrack® One GPS tracking system.

With Pursuit Mode, officers can intensify the acquisition rate for GPS data to 15-second intervals and call in four location points every minute for a period of time chosen by the officer.

The new feature was added in response to a need for community correctional agencies to know with urgency where offenders on GPS tracking are for a short period of time. With the feature, officers can aggressively pursue an offender that may be involved in criminal behavior in an attempt to locate and apprehend the person.

BI’s Pursuit Mode for ExacuTrack One is available today for supervising officers using BI Mobile for smartphones and tablets.

ExacuTrack One monitors an offender’s geographical position using a portable tracking unit that relies on available GPS data and other location positioning technologies. This FCC-certified device provides accurate data about an offender’s movement within the community.

As the product name implies, ExacuTrack One includes a single, ankle-mounted device. This tracking unit works on the same monitoring platform, BI TotalAccess®, as the rest of BI’s electronic monitoring equipment and contains a GPS receiver, battery, battery charge capability, and both wireless and radio frequency communication capabilities.

ExacuTrack One also features an advanced chipset supplied by QUALCOMM, which pairs the latest GPS tracking technology with advancements in signal sensitivity, enabling the unit to identify location in even the most difficult environments.

Posted in Industry News, Monitoring Technology

Minnesota DOC selects BI Incorporated for electronic monitoring, GPS tracking

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The Minnesota Department of Corrections has selected BI Incorporated to provide GPS tracking, electronic monitoring and continuous alcohol monitoring equipment and services statewide. The contract involves 200 monitoring devices as well as installation and removal services for offenders released to intensive supervision, supervised release or halfway houses.

The Minnesota DOC has employed electronic monitoring systems, including GPS tracking, for more than a decade. BI will collaborate with the DOC and county agencies, under the Community Corrections Act. Minnesota’s CCA agencies partner with the state to hold offenders accountable while they receive evidence-based treatment and training.

GPS tracking provides valuable information to agencies responsible for supervising criminal offenders. When GPS tracking is installed, the device logs and relays GPS data points to a central computer to ensure the offender adheres to defined schedules of activity and is not entering zones that are off limits. Electronic monitoring systems are ideal for monitoring curfews and schedules, and continuous alcohol monitoring helps verify sobriety for offenders who have a history of alcohol abuse.

Under terms of this agreement, BI will supply the Minnesota DOC with:

  • BI ExacuTrack® One monitors an offender’s location using a single-piece portable tracking unit that relies on available GPS data and other location positioning technologies. This device tracks an offender’s movement within the community and includes both wireless and radio frequency communication capabilities.
  • HomeGuard® 200 and HomeGuard 206, systems that monitor schedules and curfews via radio frequency and cellular technologies, respectively.
  • BI TAD® continuously monitors a person for alcohol consumption through a noninvasive skin sensor contained in an ankle-mounted bracelet.
  • BI TotalAccess® is thesoftware for supervising officers to access and update offender data through a secure website.

For more information on our products, click here.

Posted in Industry News, Monitoring Operations, Monitoring Technology

Electronic monitoring devices spotlighted in recent series

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The history of electronic monitoring devices was recently highlighted in a series by National Public Radio.

Invented by twin brothers in the 1960s as a way to positively reinforce offenders showing up to designated meetings on time, electronic monitoring has grown to become a cost-effective way to reduce jail populations and keep the high costs of incarceration in check while also adding additional accountability for schedules, curfews and locations (in the case of GPS tracking) while living in the community.

BI ExacuTrack One

BI ExacuTrack One

As a corrections official suggests in the article, electronic monitoring works because it allows offenders access to their communities, where they can maintain jobs and a home life, both of which are important in combatting criminal behavior.

Alcohol monitoring, like the SOBERLINK SL2 and SLBLUE, can also detect, better than ever, when an offender has violated court-ordered sobriety. As studies have shown, being under the influence of alcohol is a major factor in committing crime.

Alcohol monitoring technology helps officials enforce compliance to sobriety by being able to detect a participant’s alcohol level with easy-to-use handheld devices like the SL2 and SLBLUE that provide accurate samples daily to monitoring officers.

Monitoring technology has also evolved to offer active and detailed GPS tracking information, like the BI ExacuTrack® One, a one-piece GPS system that accurately tracks the movements of participants, allowing officers to know when a participant has entered a restricted zone or has tampered with their ankle-mounted device.

BI is often known as the pioneer of the industry, first entering the field in the 1980s. While, electronic monitoring devices have come a long way, we’re excited at BI to see where they’ll go and to provide cutting edge monitoring technology.

Learn more about our products here.

Posted in Industry News, Monitoring Technology

GPS tracking discussed on DC Public Safety

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BI ExacuTrack OneGPS tracking was the topic of a recent DC Public Safety podcast, featuring Joe Russo, the director of the Corrections Technology Center of Excellence within the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center System at the University of Denver.

Russo discussed innovations in GPS tracking, drug and alcohol testing, video instruction and supervision and officer safety and social media during the program.

One point specifically discussed was the proposed set of guidelines created for GPS tracking systems by the National Institute of Justice. Their standard would define minimum performance requirements of GPS tracking systems and test methods for the systems.

The idea behind the proposed standards is that they would help corrections officials make better purchasing decisions, and could, among other things, inform the design and manufacture of future tracking systems. You can read more about the proposed standards here.

Listen to the full podcast with Russo here.

BI Incorporated works with correctional agencies across the nation to provide reliable GPS tracking technology, like our BI ExacuTrack One. The ExacuTrack One is a single, ankle-mounted tracking unit that combines many location technologies—including autonomous GPS, assisted GPS and AFLT (Advanced Forward Link Trilateration)—to achieve reliable monitoring data.

A one-piece GPS system makes inventory management more convenient and is less likely to result in client misuse or lost equipment. Read more about our products here.

Posted in Industry News, Monitoring Operations, Monitoring Technology

SOBERLINK SLBLUE, an exciting addition to the SL2

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Image courtesy of SOBERLINK, Inc.

An exciting addition to the SL2, the SOBERLINK SLBLUE will feature wireless alcohol testing through an iPhone or iPad’s existing Wi-Fi or cell connection. This new feature, which will become available in 2014, will allow for real-time monitoring from nearly anywhere.

Like the SOBERLINKE SL2, the SLBLUE will take a photo during the breath test to confirm the identity of the user, but unlike the SL2, it will then send the photo and test results via an iPhone or iPad’s Wi-Fi or data plan to SOBERLINK’s monitoring website.

The only set-up necessary is downloading the free App and Bluetooth pairing with the SLBLUE Breathalyzer. The SLBLUE features a high-resolution camera for user verification, DOT grade fuel cell and a lithium-ion battery (a 10+ day battery life). The monitoring portal features: Adaptive Facial Recognition TM, automated tamper detection, automated text reminders and real-time alerts, customizable testing schedules and automated daily, weekly and monthly reports.

BI Incorporated has served as the exclusive master distributor of the SOBERLIKE SL2 for the criminal justice market since 2013, helping to provide much needed alcohol monitoring technology.

Alcohol monitoring allows corrections officials to enforce offender sobriety, making it easier for offenders to maintain jobs and family life and to become productive members of society.

To learn more about the SLBLUE, click here.

Posted in Industry News, Monitoring Technology