“Our research indicated that SQL Anywhere met all of our criteria. 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.”
CodeX Corp. is an innovation-based business that serves the needs of
people, enterprises, and government agencies across the U.S. The
company develops, markets, and supports software and online services
that create new opportunities for productivity, communication, and
collaboration. For its GUARDIAN RFID Corrections System, the company
migrated from Microsoft SQL Server CE and Remote Data Access to SQL
Anywhere to improve GUARDIAN’S performance and reliability and ensure
rapid and easy access to accurate, real-time information.
- During synchronization, not a single GUARDIAN customer's data has been compromised, and correctional officers have commented on the improved ability to receive up-to-the-minute information.
- Synchronizes data ten times faster
- Provides zero data loss in cases of interrupted network connections
- Enables 33 percent drop in synchronization related support calls amounting to $25,000 in annual savings
- Improves customer satisfaction significantly
- Increases word of mouth buzz about GUARDIAN, translating into increased sales
- Public Sector
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 Wilmeth.
“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 technology.
“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.