On Track Performance

No doubt, the majority of inmate tracking systems—if they work and they all don’t—increase staff productivity, provide evidence for investigations and may save food service budgets from double dippers.
With its ability to seamlessly record the location of all detainees, correctional staff, program staff, civilian employees, contractors and public visitors in a database in real time every several seconds with a positional accuracy of about three meters, RFID tracking has long been touted as the remedy for all the difficulties that beset correctional facility operators related to the management of people, says I.E. Newton, III, president of Black Creek Integrated Systems, the makers of the TSI Prism Staff Reporting System.
In addition to cost saving, there are also “intangible benefits that are hard to put a dollar figure on,” points out another industry executive, Barry Markwitz, president of Time-keeping Systems Incorporated. “What is the value of having complete inmate movement history that is always accurate?  Or having that data available immediately, without the need to search through paper logs?  What is the value of an escape that is avoided?  Or getting real time keep-separate or out-of-bounds alerts?  Or of knowing immediately when a kitchen knife or set of keys is missing?”
This type of intangible benefit may give pause for thought to corrections officials. Yet, despite the fact that many systems have delivered on its promises, corrections managers continue to be slow to embrace the technology, Newton furthers. What does he believe is the reason?
The answers are simple, he says.  The cost has been prohibitive, and “In spite of the fact that the technology pays its way in reduced claims and improved facility operating efficiencies, in the competition for public monies, corrections managers have difficulty articulating the very real value of improved behavior and increased safety to the people with oversight of their operating budgets.” He says the second reason is that in order to be successful an implementation must have a firm commitment from staff in light of inevitable pushback from the individuals whose behavior the system is designed to modify. “That commitment from a typically overburdened command staff is often difficult to come by.”
Prices are dropping for systems, Newton says, and statistics show that those that are implemented do deliver improved operational safety for both inmates and staff, reduced claims related to assaults, reduced investigative costs and other benefits.
Perhaps now is a time to take a second look at what systems have to offer. The following are overviews of several systems to compare and contrast. 
TimeKeeping Systems,
216-595-0890 or 1.800.THE.PIPE
What It Does
Guard1 Tracking is a zone-based system for real-time tracking of correctional inmates and residents and staff of juvenile facilities and psychiatric hospitals. Through its accurate automated active RF scanning of the detainee or resident’s wristband, staff can know where that individual is at all times.
How It Works
Inmates wear wristband tags (ID badges are also available).  These transmit to receivers mounted throughout the facility.  The data from the receivers is sent to the Guard1 Real Time server.  Guard1 uses a proprietary RF technology in its tags and receivers. Tag and wristband are separate, so a facility can use Guard1 wristbands, or a tag on its own. Assets and equipment—like kitchen utensils, tools, keychains, or even defibrillators—can also be tracked.
Guard1Mobile makes it possible to monitor real-time information about security patrols on a smartphone even while the patrol is in progress.  The officer’s GPS information will be uploaded immediately to their managers via the secure Guard1 Mobile website.
Information It Provides
Guard1 Real Time software determines inmate location from the tag data.  It displays the current location of every inmate, and keeps a history of every movement of every inmate.  In addition, it provides real time alert management, notification and acknowledgement.  Control room personnel can manage and log alerts, and supervisors and administrators can receive notifications via e-mail or text message for any types of alerts they want to see. 
Guard1 Duress is personal duress alarm devices for officers and staff.
Guard1 Mobile provides task management for officers. Using low cost mobile devices, officers can see a list of all upcoming tasks, such as well-being checks and cell checks, or meal and medication distribution.
Overall, the system displays a map of the facility, whereby staff can click on a zone see a list of every inmate in the zone; double-clicking brings up detail about the inmate. It can do virtual headcounts; staff can see and manage alerts in real time; it provides notifications to staff via text; and it has a robust reporting system.
Unique characteristics & benefits
“Coordinate-based location systems are notorious for the many issues they have experienced,” notes Markwitz, company president, referring to a Rand Corporation study about a failed system at the Washington, DC, Central Detention Facility.  “Guard1 Tracking is a zone-based system. Guard1 determines the zone where an inmate is located using a fraction of the infrastructure required by coordinate systems.”
Compared to wristband scanning or manual logging of inmate movement, 100% of the effort is eliminated, so the labor cost of scanning—which is considerable—is eliminated entirely, he remarks. Further, wristband scanning and manual logging are prone to inaccuracy.  Scans and manual log entries can be missed, either through human error, or most often simply because officers are busy, he states. Guard1 automated active RF scanning “is very accurate, close to 100%.”
Its next-generation wristband, to be released in Q2 2018, includes four-year battery life, a built-in scannable NFC tag, and removal detection. If it is removed or goes unseen, it can signal an alert—aiding a facility with escape detection.
DataWorks Plus
What It Does
The DataWorks Plus Inmate Tracking system is a fully integrated tracking system with unlimited tracking locations so that you can know the location of an inmate at any given time. It offers instant inmate identification, streamlines headcounts, and can interface to other jail, criminal history, and RMS systems. Your system can be customized and also integrated with booking, JMS or other existing systems to eliminate duplicate data entry. Inmate Tracking increases staff and inmate security by enabling you to know an inmate's location instantly.
Records can be tagged with special information or warnings to help staff manage offenders. A management console also displays the location of inmates in real time along with any associated images and data; it also provides a tracking history that can be viewed and searched. An optional PhotoManager mugshot system allows mughots to be captured at booking and printed on the armband. The system is also compatible with biometric scanners for increased identifying accuracy.
How It Works
All of Data Works Plus current Inmate Tracking Manager™ systems in the field use either Bar Coding or fingerprints to track the inmates.  The wristbands are being made in the jail with the firm’s BandWorks™ product, a heavy duty, virtually tamper-proof plastic band.
Information It Provides
The Inmate Tracking Manager tracks the whereabouts of an inmate based on the last scanned location. Staff can glean information regarding inmate movement and data; keep separates; dispensing of medical items; meal or pod head counts; distribution and collection of items such as razors, phone books, etc; court batch transfers; and, lastly, of course all tracked locations.
Unique characteristics & benefits
The DataWorks Plus Inmate Tracking Manager system is customized for every location, explains Todd Pastorini, general manager. “We also specialize in interfacing with JMS systems for data synchronization.”
What It Does
Radianse provides intelligent solutions for its customers by automatically collecting and processing real-time location data, movement history, associations and relationship information on high-value assets, including equipment, people and staff.  Its SkyView Correctional Facility Application Module is a set of tools, dashboards and special features specifically designed for prisons, rehabilitation centers and other inmate facilities.
This purpose-built application centers on tracking inmate location through defined areas to drive process improvement and enhance business decisions. Each inmate is monitored and tracked, with the resulting data being used to understand behavior patterns, improve inmate and staff safety, control contraband, understand elopement statics, and provide insight into relationships within the facility.
How It Works
Radianse provides real-time location tracking via a variety of technologies.  Primarily it uses Active RFID to track inmates and other high-value assets in real time, however it also incorporates passive RFID, NFC (near field communication) as well as Wi-Fi, and they are positioned to take advantage of emerging technologies. 
Their Active Tags broadcast a signal that is heard by a network of antennas they call Readers.  These Readers are network devices and pass that tag traffic along to its server/application.  At the Application level, the location of the tag is determined via several patented algorithms.  This data is used in the User Interface to provide detailed location information in real time. The system includes waterproof inmate tags (worn on wrist or ankle), staff/contractor badges with duress button and mandown feature, food tray tags that are waterproof and withstand high temperatures of warewashing systems.
Information It Provides
The application provides real time and historical information about movement of tagged people/equipment within the correctional environment.  Radianse can be used to investigate incidents; meet reporting requirements for inmate programming schedules; count verifications; address blind spots by detecting motion and activity in hard to cover areas; monitor associations, including prohibited contacts; and associate inmates and property to lower incidents of lost property.
Chris Allen, director of sales, remarks that he has received feedback on many occasions where the application was used to resolve PREA accusations.  In one instance, he notes, it was used to determine that an accused staff member was not even in the same building at the time the inmate claimed that he was assaulted.  In another instance, they were able to help an agency control the cost of food service by tagging and tracking individual food trays in order to provide counts of actual meals served in a pre-release facility. Previously, there had been confusion as inmates tried to circle back for additional meals.
Unique characteristics & benefits
Radianse provides the most rugged and durable inmate bracelet available on the market today, according to Allen.  “Additionally, our inmate bracelets have a five-year battery life, far exceeding that of any other competitor.” This means that staff has to put hands on inmates far less frequently to address battery issues.  Additionally, the bracelets are designed to be reused as detainees leave the facility, the bracelet can be cleaned and re-deployed to another offender.  “This helps keep the system extremely cost effective,” he comments.
“The location algorithms that we use also provide best in industry levels of accuracy.   This is important when tracking interactions between inmates, inmates and staff, etc.,” says Allen. The patented algorithms and advanced software applications help optimize business processes, reduce costs and improve operational efficiency, according to the firm.
What It Does
TracBlue utilizes Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) devices known as beacons, and Android handheld devices running the TracBlue application to map strategic locations within the correctional facility.   When the TracBlue Android device is near a beacon it is always transmitting its location without any interaction from the corrections personnel. 
Correctional personnel carry the TracBlue Android device with them to log specific actions at predetermined areas within the correctional facility; these areas are usually housing areas or cells.  This allows them to do cell checks and security checks from the Android devices. These actions are then transmitted immediately to the TracBlue server which makes the information immediately available on the TracBlue Portal webpage. 
TracBlue tracks inmates by integrating with the facility’s current Jail Management System (JMS).  This allows TracBlue to be able to populate the tracking system with all of the facilities inmates and locations without them needing to be entered by the facility’s employees. 
Tracking inmate actions are configurable and may include, but are not limited to, meals served, razors passed out/collected, meds passed—just to name a few, says Christopher J. Fisher, PhD., CEO, TracSynergy.
How It Works
TracBlue keeps a real-time view of all inmates in the facility via a connection to the facility’s JMS system. It uses BLE technology throughout the facility, marking critical points such as intake, suicide prevention, and general population. Guards and management have a device that interacts with those critical points, logging them in as they simply pass by. The data is synchronized from this system on a regular basis to ensure we have the most accurate, up-to-date inmate count and location, notes Fisher.
Information It Provides
The staff/management can review all data that they collect on inmates via the TracBlue application.  The data that they collect is determined by them therefore they can determine what is important to them to know about each inmate or group of inmates and collect only that data with our system, Fisher explains.   They can also set up specific alerts on each inmate or a group of inmates; an example of this type of alert would be to notify specific people if an inmate refuses five meals in a row.  These notifications can be sent via email, text messages, or both.  
Unique characteristics & benefits
TracBlue is different from other systems because it can interact with the BLE beacons without correctional personnel interaction.  This allows the system to act like an indoor GPS system.  Also, the TracBlue Android devices collect the data from the beacons, and any input from the user, and automatically transmit this information to the TracBlue server without having to be manually uploaded by correction personnel. 
TracBlue also has a unique alert system that will not only alert personnel when a violation has occurred but, can be set up to alert corrections personnel before a violation occurs.  An example of this would be, all cells in a facility need to be checked at least once every hour, so a 60-minute alert can be setup on each cell to notify a person or group of people when this does not occur.  You can then set up a 45-minute notification on this alert that will send a notification to all logged in TracBlue android devices for that facility when a cell has not been checked in 45 minutes.
TracBlue helps to eliminate double entry of data, which helps to lower personnel cost by making them more productive.  TracBlue stores all location, area, and inmate collection data for up to 10 years. 
Endur ID, Inc.
What It Does
Endur ID’s Secur Max Tracker is a system based upon bar code technology. The system uses hand held scanners that are used to scan and record the barcode which are printed onto inmates’ Secur Max Wristbands.
How It Works
Secur Max is based upon a desktop application with a SQL Database. Scanning is accomplished by using portable handhelds linked back to the desktop via a wireless network. Information is gathered by scanning barcodes on inmate wristbands, personal belongings and specific locations.  Different processes can be designed to record information needed about the inmates, staff or items.
Information It Provides
Secur Max Tracker does not offer a real-time location of an inmate as an active RFID System would, rather it records the information at specific locations. Secur Max Tracker can be designed so a continuous chain of custody can be maintained—or to simply record attendance—for example going through a cafeteria line or attending a meeting.
Unique characteristics & benefits
“Secur Max Tracker uses tried-and-true bar code technology,” says Robert Chadwick, president.  “While considered old fashioned, bar codes provide a level of staff/ inmate interaction that cannot be matched by RFID-based systems. Barcodes force the interaction with an inmate where RFID systems can and would record a discarded wristband as an inmate’s location. In addition, he furthers, the design and construction of a facility is not a factor, as we are not using radio waves to determine location. The system lends itself to being designed to match and enhance present processes while offering the opportunity to design new ones.
In all, Secur Max Tracker is designed to streamline many of the officer’s tedious information gathering activities, ideally we work to eliminate paper records or spreadsheet based inmate movement records, details Chadwick.  We also assist the facility in providing information and reports to the courts about an inmate’s activities and create records which assist the facility in avoiding some of the costs associated with inmate lawsuits. “Secur Max Tracker is flexible,” Chadwick concludes, “so we work with facilities to eliminate ‘pain points’ and improve and smooth their workflow.”
TSI PRISM, a Division of Black
Creek Integrated Systems
What It Does
The TSI PRISM™ RFID Tracking System has been proven in state prison facilities since August 2000. Unlike other tracking systems that periodically separate persons into zones of a facility, the TSI PRISM receivers provide continuous tracking and positioning—depicting graphically where an inmate is located in the facility at any time. It can be deployed as a stand-alone system or as part of Black Creek's Super Display™ touchscreen security management package.
How It Works
Officers and staff wear belt-mounted TSI Prism Personal Safety Device transmitting units that send a unique radio signal every two seconds. When the red emergency button is depressed, an alarm is sent to Central Control. If an officer is “down” for longer than a pre-specified time, an alarm is automatically sent to Central Control. Inmates wear wrist-mounted, tamper-resistant transmitting units that send a unique radio signal every two seconds. The unit resists removal by the inmate, and sends an alarm if it is removed.
Network antennas receive signals and route them to a computer, where they are displayed on a monitor with colored dots that differentiate staff from inmates. Information is archived for possible use in future investigations.
Information It Provides
It delivers real-time tracking, which encompasses: headcounts and immediate officer down alerts; immediate alarm notification of attempted escapes or removal from a pod; a computer archive (weeks or optionally, months) of the location of every inmate every second of every day; ingress and egress data for work details or court proceedings;  time-keeping for officers shifts; maintenance of commissary accounts, and meal and medication distribution. 
Black Creek firmly believes that the implementation of a TSI Prism Staff Duress Reporting and Inmate Tracking System will result in dramatic improvements in facility operations including: Improved operational safety for both inmates and staff; reduced claims related to inmate-on-inmate and inmate-on-staff assaults; improved PREA compliance; reduced investigative costs; and reduced overtime through real-time headcounts.
Unique characteristics
Black Creek’s TSI Prism Division was the first firm to successfully implement RFID Tracking in a corrections environment and remains a leader in the technology today, Newton says. Extensive R&D efforts have allowed us to address the cost problem, he furthers, with the rollout of a system in 2018 that will feature “more robust body-worn devices with extended battery life, improved tracking accuracy by 50% and cost approximately half of our previous systems.”