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GPS tracking technology helps solo parole agents work safer

Device sends exact physical location back to the facility if an officer is in trouble

By Erin Hicks
CorrectionsOne Editor

Working as a probation or parole agent is a dangerous profession. Often agents are called to walk into ex-offenders’ homes to check up on them, and adding to the danger is that in most cases, agents go in alone.

One product aimed to help officers do their job and get home safely is the Loner SMD made by Canadian-based company, Blackline GPS. The device can be worn on an officer’s belt and provides real-time safety monitoring for parole agents or other law enforcement.

When the product is turned on it connects through the wireless network like a cell phone. Once it is activated the personnel monitoring can see when someone is online — kind of like Gchat. While Blackline GPS does provide monitoring services, in a corrections setting, facilities would most likely employ their own staff to monitor where their staff is at all times while they’re on the job.

If an officer finds him or herself in an emergency situation, all she has to do is pull the emergency latch and in half a second, a safety alert will be sent back to personnel monitoring the geographic location and status of the officer. The device also sounds an alarm and lights up while vibrating to assist responders in the immediate vicinity.

“In the case of a parole officer, if he’s escorting someone from one center to another and if the prisoner can’t be trusted, sometimes you don’t have time to press a button — the latch can be flipped out more quickly,” said Brendon Cook, CTO and co-founder.

The Loner SMD also features micro-electro sensors that deliver the first ever True Fall Detection technology within a remote worker safety monitoring device. Internal accelerometers and gyroscopes detect falls and will also send an automated alert if an officer becomes motionless.

“People have cell phones and the illusion of safety but when something happens they may not be able to pull out their phones and call for help. This device can trigger an alert to someone that could help in half a second,” Cook said.

The Minnesota Department of Corrections purchased 50 Blackline Loner GPS safety devices in January, and Cook is hoping to break more ground in the corrections market.

Next up the company is developing indoor location technology that could be used within prison walls. That way, the company will be able to provide both indoor and outdoor tracking technology to serve the needs of an entire prison system. The new system should be available sometime next year.

“The topic of monitoring employee safety remotely in real time is a new best practice. The industry is mature in both training and protection, but now this type of technology is able to let an employer know a safety incident has happened in real time in an automated fashion so it can be done without intervention from the employee, because they may not be able to,” said Cook.



About Blackline: Headquartered in Calgary, Canada, Blackline addresses work environments focused on employee safety, while also offering connected hardware to improve security and communicate logistical information of company assets. Visit them online.

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