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Biometric detainee monitoring grows in Australia and US

Biometric detainee monitoring grows in Australia and US

Kiwi custom software maker Optimation has signed a five-year contract with a state prison department in Australia to replace its self-service monitoring system with biometrics kiosks.

Queensland Corrective Services’ new infrastructure will feature cloud-based software and a mobile app. It will be deployed in several QCS regional offices and allow the department to integrate with several databases and other third-party products.

Optimation, based in New Zealand, will be supplying biometrics software through which people under community supervision orders will check in. It is unclear if the firm will provide hardware as well.

“Providing reliable, secure ways for case managers and individuals to connect, interact and meet their respective needs or requirements has applications across a range of public sector agencies,” Optimation’s executive director, Alex Bouma, told Australian reseller trade publication ARN.

ARN reports that the company has contracted with New Zealand’s Department of Corrections as well.

ICE steps up electronic monitoring efforts

Biometric electronic monitoring is being ramped up by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, claims a new report by The Nation, a liberal news and culture magazine.

According to the article, ICE is monitoring at least 316,700 people through its alternatives to detention program. Most if the asylum seekers are from Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Brazil.

As part of their contract with for-profit prison company Geo Group, ICE captures biometric and location information from ankle monitors worn by enrolled migrants, as well as voice recognition registrations via an app known as SmartLink.

A 2021 survey by the Benjamin Cardozo School of Law discovered that 90 percent of respondents had experienced harm to physical health due to the ankle monitors, including pains, excessive heat or inflammation. Twenty percent reported electric shocks from the devices.

The Nation article indicates that ICE detention and biometric monitors are primarily being used to detain and surveil asylum seekers that the administration cannot exclude at the border via Title 42, an order established during the pandemic to expel migrants swiftly.

Ankle monitors are “undoubtedly preferable to being detained in ICE’s notoriously substandard facilities,” reads the article, “but all alternatives to detention nonetheless rely on a worldview in which migrants are inherently criminal and worthy of surveillance.”

SuperCom benefits from market growth

Israeli digital ID company SuperCom is a notable beneficiary of the growth in biometric monitoring sector, in the U.S. and elsewhere.

In May, the company won a contract for biometrically tracking criminals in Croatia and in August, executives signed four biometric monitoring contracts in the United States and a $33 million agreement with a European customer.

More recently, SuperCom reported doubled revenues in the third quarter of 2022 to $6.3 million and a gross profit of $2.1 million, up roughly 100 percent compared to last year.

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