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The Division of Parole and Community Services (DPCS) has embarked
on a project to provide easy-to-use, automated, mobile tools for
Parole Officers who supervise offenders. This technology is facilitating
the efficient, cost-effective supervision of offenders as well as
aiding in the implementation of statewide programming initiatives
such as the Reentry portion of the Ohio Plan.
Using web-based technology, the Field Officer Tools (FOT) project sets the foundation for the use of new, cutting-edge technology to augment the existing mainframe Community Corrections Information System (CCIS), which is the mission-critical application that manages all offenders under supervision in Ohio. The FOT application reduces the redundancy of data capture by providing dynamic interfaces to CCIS.
Essentially, FOT uses the Tablet PC platform as the foundation for a suite of tools which replace the traditional "pen-and-paper" technology still widely in use. Designed specifically for the officer who conducts most of his/her business away from the office, FOT brings together offender information into an easy-to-use, common interface. Taking full advantage of the features of the Windows XP Tablet Edition operating system, FOT delivers a user interface which is easy to navigate without the use of a mouse or keyboard (of course the user can utilize both keyboard and mouse if so desired). It allows users to compile, access, organize, search, re-use and share data; combining the flexibility of handwritten notes with the power of a computer. A Microsoft SQL Server 2000-based synchronization server mediates the two way transfer of data between the Tablet PC and the CCIS mainframe.
Prior to the implementation of the current initiative, parole officers who supervise offenders collected a variety of information (such as essential case-specific data and daily activity information) via "paper and pen." Case data would be entered into a small notebook (FOS book) in the form of hand-written notes. The officer would carry the notebook from contact to contact, whether in the field or the office. The average case required five pages of notes, and each officer supervises an average of more than 75 cases (approximately 33,000 state-wide). As a result, the average officer’s FOS book(s) would contain over 400 pages of hand-written notes. Often, officers found themselves burdened with additional items such as thick files as well as a myriad of other cumbersome paper documents.
Built with "best-of-breed" tools, the FOT application mimics the look and feel of the traditional "pen and paper" casebook and, using the stylus "pen" to enter data, the process is remarkably close to the feel of familiar manual processes. In addition to FOT, the Tablets are equipped with MS Office and Outlook (for full report writing and email functionality). At present, DPCS is using HP tc1000 and tc1100 Tablet PCs set up for operation in both wireless and hardwired environments. The Tablets are approximately 8 1/2" x 11" x 1" in size and weigh approximately three pounds. Given its small size and weight, it is an ideal mobile and flexible information collection and retrieval tool for active officers. At present, more than 400 officers are equipped with these devices.
DPCS remains committed to providing its staff with cost-effective, cutting-edge, problem-solving technologies.