Improving Jail Safety, Security and Legal Defensibility
On a typical day in the Hardin County Correctional Center in Iowa, a
team of three to five guards patrols the 107 inmate facility performing
innumerable tasks from cell checks, inmate transports and medication
requests to issuing and retrieving commissary and other supplies. These
guards, in an unpredictable and potentially hostile environment, are
responsible for ensuring a secure jail environment and for complying
with jail standards and regulations.
As such, they are required to document virtually every task and
activity in real time at the point of contact. In addition to the
importance of ensuring a secure jail environment, accurate,
minute-by-minute documentation is critical because of the ever-looming
prospect of frivolous inmate lawsuits.
In the past, documentation at the jail was a paper process. Activity
logs were handwritten. Guards would do their rounds and then either go
to their desks to fill out paper forms recounting their activities or
they would radio their reports to someone else in the jail who would
enter the information onto paper logs.
The result was a very time-consuming process that did not provide
guards and administrators with the real-time information they needed to
perform their jobs as efficiently and effectively as possible. It also
produced documentation that was not always as accurate as necessary to
prove compliance with standards or defend against litigation.
Thanks to the GUARDIAN RFID Corrections System, powered by SQL
Anywhere, Hardin County Correctional Center, along with many other
jails across the country, now have an automated, next-generation inmate
management system that has increased corrections professionals’
effectiveness and productivity while strengthening overall compliance,
accountability and defensibility.
The GUARDIAN system uses ruggedized HP Pocket PCs equipped with RFID
readers, and running Windows Mobile and SQL Anywhere’s UltraLite
database-management system and MobiLink synchronization technology. The
system employs RFID tags mounted outside cells to capture accurate,
time-specific inmate information. Each transaction includes vital
details, such as inmate name, officer ID, the inmate’s demeanor or
services provided to the inmate, as well as the ability to
electronically capture signatures for medications. That
information is securely synchronized with customers’ consolidated SQL
Server 2005 databases hosted at CodeX through the MobiLink Server via a
Wi-Fi network or USB cradle connection.
“GUARDIAN employs a Software as a Service (SaaS)delivery platform,”
says Wilmeth, “which really drives innovation and creates true business
value for the agency, while supporting integration with a wide range of
jail management systems from independent software vendors throughout
the United States. From a business standpoint, GUARDIAN helps
correctional officers complete fundamental, legally required tasks with
greater speed and precision, such as jail rounds, which has been proven
to be very effective in mitigating the liabilities correctional
facilities face everyday.
“An Invaluable System”
“The biggest benefit GUARDIAN provides is that it makes everything live
and real-time,” says Hardin County Jail Administrator Nick Whitmore.
“GUARDIAN assists our officers as they deal with routine activities.
When something upsets the routine, it’s easy for a guard to forget what
they have already done. By enabling our officers to document activities
in real-time, it frees up their minds so they can focus on key issues
like safety and security. It also provides us with the precise
documentation we need in the event of a lawsuit. It’s been an
invaluable system for us.”
Microsoft Synchronization Creates Problems
GUARDIAN was originally developed using Microsoft SQL Server CE and
Remote Data Access (RDA) synchronization technology. It soon became
apparent, however, that the Microsoft technology was not the best
solution upon which to base the GUARDIAN system.
“One of the challenges we experienced while using SQL Server CE and RDA
synchronization technology,” explains Brett Wilmeth, CodeX Vice
President, “was the lack of advanced resolution regarding data exchange
conflicts, specifically if the network connection was lost. The
Microsoft synchronization method was what might be called wipe and
rewrite. Instead of only synchronizing changed data, Microsoft’s RDA
synchronization would first delete the existing database on the mobile
device and then re-download everything from the consolidated database.
If the network connection was lost during this process, there could be
a significant data loss. When that happened, it placed the facility at
risk and increased its vulnerability in the event of a lawsuit.”
Additionally, CodeX wanted to improve GUARDIAN’s synchronization speed
and add advanced capabilities such as fully automated, server-initiated
synchronization sessions. “Since we encourage users to synchronize
their data as often as possible, the lengthy and problematic
synchronization process was a source of many user complaints,” says
“From a business standpoint, we needed to reduce the number of
technical support incidents related to interrupted synchronization
attempts caused by intermittent breaks in network connectivity and
reduce the synchronization time,” Wilmeth adds. “These improvements had
to be completed quickly and cost-effectively.”
SQL Anywhere Improves GUARDIAN Performance and Reliability
CodeX found its solution to these problems in SQL Anywhere from Sybase iAnywhere.
Wilmeth researched the availability of solutions that might remedy the
problems it was experiencing with the Microsoft-based GUARDIAN system.
That research led him to SQL Anywhere.
“Our research indicated that SQL Anywhere met all of our criteria,”
says Wilmeth. “We downloaded it from the Web and built a demo system.
Then we tried to recreate a lot of the problems customers had
experienced. We found that no matter what we tried, we never lost data.
If a connection was interrupted, we simply hit the sync button again
and SQL Anywhere picked up right where it left off. Our
synchronization performance also improved dramatically. SQL Anywhere’s
MobiLink technology was at least 10 times faster than Microsoft RDA.”
Based on this evaluation, CodeX decided to migrate GUARDIAN from
Microsoft CE and RDA to SQL Anywhere. “Additional reasons for our
migration to SQL Anywhere included its seamless integration with
GUARDIAN’s back-end consolidated SQL Server 2005 database, its built-in
support for Visual Studio with its object-based programming interface,
and the SQL Anywhere UltraLite small footprint, which enabled our
mobile application developers to achieve tremendous resource efficiency
and minimize application overhead,” says Wilmeth.
Migration to SQL Anywhere Produces Significant Results
Since rolling out the improved SQL Anywhere-powered version of
GUARDIAN, not a single GUARDIAN customer has lost data during
synchronization. Correctional officers have also commented on the
improved synchronization speed and their ability to receive
up-to-the-minute information including updated inmate housing rosters,
inmate locations, and digital mug shots. CodeX, too, has realized
significant benefits. The company has seen a 33 percent drop in support
calls related to synchronization, which translates into an annual
savings of $25,000.
Sybase iAnywhere Key to Continuous Improvements
As CodeX considers enhancements to GUARDIAN, it plans to leverage
additional SQL Anywhere functionality and other Sybase iAnywhere
“We’re very interested in leveraging SQL Anywhere’s ability to automate
the synchronization process on an event driven basis,” says Wilmeth.
“That would allow us to automatically push updated information down to
the guards’ handhelds anytime an inmate is booked, for instance. It
would also automatically sync their handhelds whenever they logged on,
with no action required by the users.”
CodeX is currently exploring Sybase iAnywhere’s Afaria mobile device
management solution to enable it to manage, secure and update the
handheld devices simultaneously from a central, remote location. “That
would be a tremendously valuable capability for us,” says Wilmeth.