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SecureAlert: Tapping Data to Stay Ahead of Crime

By Tony Kontzer  |  Posted 05-06-2011 Print

SecureAlert can't afford to let information go unanalyzed. Public safety is at stake. The six-year-old firm uses ankle bracelets transmitting GPS coordinates to track probationers and parolees for law enforcement agencies and bail bondsmen. Its business relies on its ability to react quickly and decisively to real-time data. And it has a lot of data to react to. Each of the ankle bracelets worn by the 10,000-plus offenders tracked via SecureAlert transmits data every 10 seconds, 24/7, to the tune of more than 2 terabytes every year, says Steve Florek, vice president and managing director of offender insights and knowledge management.

It's not the kind of data that can be dropped into a data warehouse and analyzed later. SecureAlert has to extract everything it can in real time so it can react and dispatch law enforcement if necessary.

That capability is provided by ParAccel's analytics-intensive database engine, which provides the company with insight into exactly what each offender is doing at a given moment. For example, a parolee who wanders out after a court-imposed curfew can be told via the ankle bracelet's built-in speaker that police will be dispatched if he or she doesn't return home.

Likewise, SecureAlert could trigger the alarm on an ankle bracelet worn by a person on probation for domestic violence if that person gets too close to the victim's home. ParAccel also enables SecureAlert to identify behavior trends that might otherwise go unnoticed to help predict potential crimes. Alluding to the film Minority Report, Florek says, "We want to be the department of pre-crime."

For example, the analytics solution recently was able to deduce that a sex offender in Oakland, Calif., had been milling about a certain intersection at 2 p.m. every day. The software brought this to the attention of the SecureAlert staff, which discovered that the intersection was the site of a new school bus stop. The company dispatched law enforcement to intervene before any offense could be committed.


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