Dreaming of a Better World or Why We Must Push for Standardization of Electronic Monitoring

Imagine….  Electronic Monitoring is no longer based on the electronic bracelets, but rather, on a cutting-edge no-tag, self-installing solution that seamlessly interfaces with a user-friendly and flexible application that can be managed on the move. The EM programs manage all the stages of offender’s rehabilitation from in-facility tracking to location-based tracking outdoors. The EM solutions become so advanced, in fact, that now you not only can monitor offender’s whereabouts, but also health, levels of stress and mood, amounts of daily physical activity, calories consumed and burnt and much more. It is very clear how cost-and-socially-effective EM programs are, and they become part of a golden standard for rehabilitating prisoners, adopted by almost all the governments of the world.  As a result, the EM vendors are now a part of a much larger market, and so they see their revenues grow. The EM becomes a domain of progress and innovation, enabling safer communities and better world, while becoming a part of the eco-system of Smart Cities and Internet of Things.

There are reasons for the separation of this idyllic example. One of the most important is:

Lack of Standardization.

Why is standardization so important?

Industry-wide standards play a vital role in our globalizing world. Standards make an important contribution to national and international competitiveness.

Standardization does not just facilitate the transfer of knowledge but also the opening up of markets.

Standards support the innovation capability of enterprises for products, services and management by creating objective and internationally recognized parameters, targets and yardsticks for business activity.

They create leeway for innovation. Experience clearly shows that new technical standards often give a foothold to new technologies.

Standards are also a great help for the legislator and the administration. They provide assistance in the technical and practical implementation of legal requirements.

With civil servants participating in the drawing up of standards in their respective areas of expertise, standards can improve the description and implementation of legal requirements (http://www.directionsmag.com/entry/the-impact-of-international-standardization/123376).

Experience clearly shows that new technical standards often give a foothold to new technologies. Various industries ( e.g. semiconductors, environment,  energy, healthcare, transportation and many others) have successfully worked on and adopted international standardization which turned out highly beneficial for all the market players.  What were the benefits? –  Interoperability of products and services, innovation, improved design and quality of products, easier access to international markets and markets growth, better communication between manufacturers and suppliers and other benefits.

Why does Electronic Monitoring need standardization?

Today, a typical EM solution is the one where a single vendor provides all of the system components, creating a great deal of vendor dependency. Vendor dependency leads to mediocrity, stagnation and high solutions cost; the customers (government agencies and, ultimately, taxpayers) pay the high price. It also creates a distorted picture of EM program’s efficiency making EM’s progress harder to measure and analyze, as customers’ only source of information is vendor-based and with virtually zero objective information available.

The idyllic example at the beginning of the post might be a bit far-fetched but it comes to illustrate how standardization and interoperability can greatly benefit both the government agencies and the vendors.

If we can start turning the standardization wheel now, in the near future we should be able to achieve:

  1. Interoperability between solution components of different vendors – mixed vendor solutions, for optimal technological and budgeted solutions.
  2. Ease of integration with zero-touch provisioning.
  3. Improved hardware quality, durability (e.g.- battery life, location services) safety and performance.
  4. Better data analytics and information gathering.
  5. Adoption of “Best of Breed” approach, enabling technological and service excellence and implementation of new, out-of-industry technologies.
  6. Unlocking of the new markets and new revenue streams generation for the EM vendors.

 Archibald MacLeish said, “There’s only one thing more painful than learning from experience, and that is not learning from experience.”

 If nothing is done today, I believe, that our entire industry might pay a heavy price tomorrow.


What are your thoughts? Please share your comments and thoughts on the idea of standardization and interoperability. I would love to know how you perceive this concept, via https://www.em-is.com/index.php/contact/ or mail to emis@em-is.com 

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