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A smartphone-based 'office' for parole agents

When it comes to managing parolees, field agents work to provide  high-quality supervision while also tracking and logging information on each case.  The Virtual Integrated Mobile Office app aims to make the process simpler for parole officers, saving them time and paperwork.

A collaboration between the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the San Diego County Probation Department, VIMO builds on  county's Probation Utility Mobile Application. PUMA, which was built for the county by DXC Technology,  allows agents using Android, iOS or Windows devices to update their case files from their smartphones with information on each contact while in the field.

To create VIMO, CDCR officials leveraged San Diego’s experience with DXC to produce a fully functional pilot in three months that was initially rolled out to 45 state parole agents.  It was built on an open source platform, which lets any approved government agency participate and enables rapid deployment and cost-effective implementation of new features.

To connect the localized systems, CDCR started with the counties that were already connected to the state's Strategic Offender Management System, which replaced the agency's disparate legacy application systems with an electronic offender management information system and electronic records management system.

“The collaborative partnership established between San Diego County and CDCR was designed to encourage other participant agencies to enhance their law enforcement tools with new capabilities and to repurpose systems into new domains,” Russ Gibfried, DXC technologist and enterprise architect, said.

Parole agents can access not just basic parolee information, but also mug shots; descriptions of identifying scars, marks and tattoos; supervision notes; conditions of parole; drug tests results; and cautions, warrants and alerts about each of their parolees, allowing them to confirm parolees are complying with conditions of their release. The system eliminates agent's dependence on paper-based files, and because officers download their case files each morning, they can work offline if they have no wireless or mobile service connectivity.

To ensure data is protected, VIMO uses mobile device management, two-factor authentication, and 256-bit AES encryption to meet the standards of the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Systems.

Approximately 1,400 officers are currently using VIMO to record their notes and conversations, saving  170,000 hours a year in administrative tasks across San Diego, Alameda, Yolo and Placer counties. The collaboration won CDCR a 2017 State IT Recognition Award from the National Association of State CIOs.

“We developed VIMO with the focus of the agent on the ground,” CDCR Director of Enterprise Mobility  Jeffery Funk said.  “Now, we are interested in using the same process for supervisors and executive managers to be able to search for information on specific cases, agents and criteria in a certain time frame.”

Once county corrections departments get on the same case management platform, 20 more counties are expected to start using VIMO over the next 18 months. 

“With more communities in involved, it makes it easier to standardize and share information across the state,” Funk said.  “We want to make officer safety paramount by moving forward with additional enhancements to the program.”

 Some of those enhancements include pulling in GPS-based offender tracking information that is currently stored in a separate system.

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for GCN, covering cloud, cybersecurity and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Before joining GCN, Friedman was a reporter for Gambling Compliance, where she covered state issues related to casinos, lotteries and fantasy sports. She has also written for Communications Daily and Washington Internet Daily on state telecom and cloud computing. Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at sfriedman@gcn.com or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

Click here for previous articles by Friedman.


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