Electronic offender monitoring: human IoT or Orwellian nightmare?

via Flickr © ms.akr  (CC BY 2.0)

via Flickr © ms.akr (CC BY 2.0)

  • Given the choice it’s probably better than prison - for both the prisoner and the jailer
  • And its use in North America and Europe is generating nearly €1 billion per year
  • So, according to Big Brother, what could possibly go wrong?

An ‘electronic offender’ could be a drone intent on mischief, I suppose, but until drone offences proliferate and need their own category, ‘electronic offender monitoring’ and its burgeoning tech market in Europe and North America (predicted to reach € 1.0 billion in 2022) defines the wearable technology and services needed to keep tabs on people required by the courts to have their freedom of movement controlled.

These offenders might include those on bail with conditions, prisoners released on probation and so on.

The technology to do this isn’t new, but it is getting more sophisticated and in doing so there’s more than a whiff of Orwellian unease about the whole surveillance thing.

This monitoring tech was once fairly crude. The ‘offender’ was often required to stay in range of a radio unit attached to a modem/telephone line setup in his house. He (usually) would wear an electronic ankle bracelet and if his ankle strayed out of range when not supposed to, the authorities were alerted.  

Today technical arrangements are more sophisticated with GPS and other sensors playing a role. According to  Berg Insight (below). “Offender monitoring systems today can not only show offenders’ real-time locations but also analyse behavioural and travel patterns which can be used to identify and prioritize high-risk offenders”.  

Woah...  Orwellian indeed.

It’s not surprising that this form of human IoT is on the uptick. In the UK the government has just announced what it claims is a radical new prisons policy. It says it’s going to outlaw short sentences which, it maintains, don’t work. It also wants to save money and get the prison population down.

What’s the betting that bail conditions and ‘offender monitoring’ are going to play a big part in that new policy.

See press release below

The electronic offender monitoring market in Europe and North America to reach € 1.0 billion in 2022

The electronic offender monitoring market in Europe and North America to reach € 1.0 billion in 2022

The IoT analyst firm Berg Insight today released new findings about the market for Electronic Monitoring (EM) of offenders. The number of participants in EM programmes on a daily basis amounted to around 36,000 people in Europe and around 155,000 people in North America in 2017. The market value for EM including equipment, software and services in Europe was € 170 million in 2017.

Growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11 percent, this number is expected to reach € 285 million by 2022. The North American market for EM is forecasted to grow at a CAGR of 6 percent from US$ 580 million in 2017 to US$ 785 million in 2022. Berg Insight is of the opinion that the market for EM equipment and services is in a growth phase which will continue throughout the forecast period. Electronic Monitoring can have major benefits for offenders, relatives and for the society as a whole.

The aim of EM programmes is to increase offender accountability, reduce recidivism rates and enhance public safety by providing an additional tool complementing traditional methods of community supervision. Policy makers, corrections authorities and private sector service providers also advocate the use of EM programmes as a way to decrease total correctional system costs and reduce the prison population.

There are two major technologies used in electronic monitoring programmes – RF and GPS. In North America, around 75 percent of the devices used are based on GPS and cellular technology. In Europe, RF is the still the dominant technology and GPS-based systems account for less than 10 percent of all systems used. Attenti (formerly 3M Electronic Monitoring) is among the few EM providers with a truly global presence. The company is the world’s largest provider of EM equipment and the company holds a significant market share on both the European and North American markets. G4S is the world’s largest security service company and is a leading provider of EM equipment on the European market. BI Incorporated, a subsidiary of GEO Group, is the largest provider of EM equipment and services on the North American market. Additional leading solution providers in North America and Europe include Track Group, Satellite Tracking of People (STOP), Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Buddi, Comp and Geosatis.

In recent years, the leading providers of EM solutions have focused on developing more advanced software and analytical tools to help officers prioritize and manage alerts more effectively. “Today’s systems are easier to use and allow officers to be in full control of their entire caseload”, says Martin Bäckman, IoT Analyst at Berg Insight. The latest solutions released on the market also have extended functionalities. “Offender monitoring systems today can not only show offenders’ real-time location but also analyse behavioural and travel patterns which can be used to identify and prioritize high-risk offenders”, concludes Mr. Bäckman.

This content extract was originally sourced from an external website (Berg Insight) and is the copyright of the external website owner. TelecomTV is not responsible for the content of external websites. Legal Notices

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