OU Spatial Analysis Group Developing Suite of Tools for Monitoring and Analysis of Oklahoma Offenders
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NORMAN –The University of Oklahoma Center for Spatial Analysis has been developing a web-based tracking analysis application named TRACKS that facilitates Oklahoma parole and probation officers in the supervision of offenders on a GPS location-based monitoring system. Location-based offender monitoring systems are widely adopted in Oklahoma and other states as a cost-saving alternative to incarceration for low-risk offenders. OU teamed with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections on the project and the National Institute of Justice provided funding.
May Yuan, professor in the OU College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences, says OU uses offender location tracking points to develop a track analysis prototype that can mine GPS data for movement patterns and alert officers to offenders with potential behavior problems. “There are two types of systems—real-time monitoring and passive,” says Yuan. “OU uses a passive system that uploads data from the GPS monitoring device daily for analysis by the parole officers the next day.”
Yuan says, “We work closely with the end user to ensure the tools meet their needs by conducting multiple user tests to assure functionality and usability.” The OU web-based tracking analysis application analyzes an offender’s movement on a daily basis, detects offenders who are in proximity to crime incidents and investigates unusual movement patterns. The OU team includes Yuan, Atsushi Nara, geospatial scientist, Marguerite Keesee, sociologist, William Greenwood, IT analyst and web developer, and Meredith Denney and Grant Floyd, graduate research assistants.
Results from the project will have policy implications at both state and national levels. The development of TRACKS will allow the diversion of offenders from incarceration to a community corrections setting, which will reduce prison overcrowding. Additionally, TRACKS will begin the process of bringing together geospatial data for corrections and law enforcement agencies in a statewide integrated framework. This will permit probation and parole staff to be proactive in identifying behaviors and “hot spots” that might not have been recognizable in the past and to intercede when offenders appear to be regressing back into old problematic behavior patterns.
At the end of the project, OU will make the tracking analysis application publicly available. Corrections and law enforcement organizations interested in TRACKS will be able to download OU’s tools from a password-protected website. The NIJ funded the project in 2010 for two years, then extended the project for another two years. For more information about the TRACKS project, contact May Yuan at email@example.com.
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