Big Data, advanced analytics and ubiquitous communications are creating a firestorm of opportunity for organizations with the right tools to harness their energy. One of the more promising applications – location-based intelligence services – is now poised for substantial growth. According to a five year forecast from Pyramid Research, global location-based services revenue will reach US$10.3bn in 2015, up from $2.8bn in 2010, driven by increasing GPS adoption, the wider coverage and higher speeds of mobile networks and new business models. For platform providers looking for success in this emerging space, the key lies is finding the right combination of hardware and software, but also in demonstrating solution value in practical use cases. A good example of the innovation that is emerging from the blend of data, analytics and location awareness appeared this past December in the merging of Track Group’s device monitoring with G2 Research expertise in predictive analytics to enable new capability in people-finding.
A provider of tracking and intervention monitoring products and services for the global offender management marketplace, Salt Lake City, Utah-based Track Group (formerly SecureAlert) offers a range of RF monitoring and GPS tracking devices for electronic location, alcohol detection and three way voice communications. The company has also developed TrackerPAL, a web-based application that receives and stores data transmitted from these devices, offers real time visibility into offender location and behaviour, as well as monitoring and support services delivered through its 24/7 Monitoring Centre. So far, Track Group products and services have successfully targeted the corrections and law enforcement communities, with programs such as the Marion County, Indiana pilot that offers repeat DUI offenders a monitoring alternative to jail time as well as savings to corrections facilities who do not have to house those awaiting trial, effectively showcasing solution benefits.
But Track Group is looking to expand into new industries, and to that end is augmenting its capabilities. This past December, for example, the company announced acquisition of Halifax, Nova Scotia-based G2 Research, a specialist in predictive analytics that began life as a creator of geo-temporal analysis tools for law enforcement to support of counter terrorist operations. Since founding in 2009, G2 has grown customers, the scope of answers that its technology provides, geographic markets – and last year expanded into community corrections, creating synergies with now parent Tracker Group in vertical market orientation.
According to Tom Gilgan, former CEO of G2 Research and the new global CTO for Track Group, “we took tracking data from covert devices and we put that through our analysis engine to find patterns in the data, to predict future travel, and to find instances when multiple suspects, (likely a gang), are getting together, something that is very hard to do with unstructured GPS data.” Designed to unleash the “The Power of Where” G2 Research software can:
- Batch analyze the GPS/location data from large groups of people/vehicles/animals/vessels to identify destinations, Hubs, visitation patterns, and travel routes
- Identify normal travel/visitation patterns and predict future travel
- Find locations where multiple tracked assets are congregating
- Identify locations and find related travel activity across the group
- Support data from any mode of transport (walking or train (GPS or cell signals), car (automobile navigation systems), vessels at sea (AIS systems), financial transactions (ATM activity))
As Gilgan explained, that these solution capabilities translate neatly to Track’s electronic monitoring world, which also relies on data streaming from GPS devices, and can help parole officers (in corrections) who have a mandate to examine data on offenders they watch on a daily basis improve performance. “We are a game changer in the electronics monitoring industry,” he noted, “as no one else that we know of is providing analytics for this data.” For parole officers or program administrators, this means automation that can speed daily routine tasks such as the manual assessment of each individual’s separate GPS data points, as well as summary reporting that goes beyond plotting GPS on a map to support more sophisticated decision making. In addition, the processing and analysis of data from multiple sources can lead to more effective offender management – alarms can be implemented, for example, to alert officers when two offenders with ankle bracelets that are under ‘do not associate rules’ meet up for suspected gang related activity.
In the Track Group electronic monitoring environment, G2’s predictive capabilities will also enable the tracking and monitoring of an offender’s travel behaviour, based on patterns in the data. “By tracking a person’s travel, you create a fingerprint,” Gilgan explained, “which indicates a stable travel pattern or that an individual does not have stability in his/her life.” With industry research into behaviours that Gilgan expects Track will be able to support, this fingerprint can be correlated with behavioural analysis to establish relative degrees of risk that a person might reoffend – offering the parole or other officer one more tool to prioritize and to improve their own productivity. And with better reporting, managers will be able to better allocate resources to various cases, balancing work portfolios to improve the effectiveness of institutional programs themselves.
Another key value prop of the G2 platform is easy visibility, “which in the law enforcement field,” Gilgan added, “means not much training is needed as officers don’t have much time and need something instinctual.” Similarly, the importation of data has been simplified by an import wizard that is device agnostic – virtually all devices managed by the software have different alerts and alarms, and the company has also worked to incorporate social data into the platform.
Going forward, Track Group will continue to offer G2 Research software as a standalone product to law enforcement in order to take advantage of the market presence G2 has built within this segment, but .NET development work is now underway in Halifax and with an international Track Group team to integrate G2’s web-based analytics application into TrackerPal. According to Gilgan, direct integration is the “easiest way to stitch things together,” and the “quickest way to go to market,” with what is now the “first total tracking and analytics solution.”
Commenting on the merger, Gilgan pointed to good cultural and strategic fit between the two companies, and to additional growth opportunities offered through creation of an end-to-end solution that delivers best of breed in devices and software, through Track Group’s developed global presence, and its ability to support research and other development initiatives. Global operation also introduces new challenges – Gilgan noted market differences in Europe, for example, where different attitudes towards electric monitoring, offender management, data privacy and offender rights will have to be addressed by providers – as well as the company’s new mandate to identify untapped, adjacent markets for Track Group technology. Gilgan does not view the legacy G2 Research platform or Tracker Group as directly involved in the Internet of Things right now; however, “IoT could fall into that,” he agreed. Armed with the devices, analytics and data hosting that Track Group now commands, and connected through customer solutions, it could indeed.