A New Age of Humane Treatment: How Technology Can Change Prisons

Corporations all over New Zealand are increasingly becoming more high-tech as a way to increase productivity while cutting costs. That’s where companies like BlueJeans enter the picture, with their video conferencing equipment, making it possible to hold meetings across a variety of platforms. But today’s high-tech world also makes it possible for prisons to treat its inmates more humanely.

The concept of humane treatment has been at the forefront of the New Zealand prison system since it is believed that by treating prisoners with care and respect as well as giving them the means to integrate themselves back into society, this can help to prevent them from walking back down a criminal path. It is based on the concept of humane treatment in action that one of the current debates within the New Zealand government has been to implement new technological methods into the way in which prisoners are dealt with. This is due to the need for both rehabilitation as well as lowering the overall cost of management in today’s prison system.

Fewer Guards and Fewer Walls

One of the first proposed changes for the New Zealand prison system is the implementation of RFID prisoner tracking which would enable the prison guards to monitor the movements of prisons throughout the facility. Basically, as explained by Computerworld.co.nz, the system utilizes medical grade RFID chips which will be placed into prisoners as a means of tracking their movement throughout the prison which would result in a faster and more efficient method of prisoner tracking. The Identity Chip, a small innocuous device no bigger than a grain of rice, can be surgically inserted within the skin of a prisoner enabling a safe and efficient way for prison staff to access the personal history of prisoners as well as track their movements within the jail without having to track them via CCTV cameras and prison personnel.

The RFID system can also limit the ability of prisoners to enter particular areas of the prison by keying the RFID frequency emitted by the chips to the door locks which helps to minimize instances where prisoners inadvertently get a hold of the keys to a restricted area of the prison. Through the implementation of a prisoner tracking system, the New Zealand government will be able to save significant amounts of money on the cost of prison operations. This in turn could go towards improving the conditions within prisons such as better access to medical care and more productive activities (i.e. classes so that inmates can learn skills which they can apply outside of prison). It is expected that once the tracking system has been successfully implemented, this will result in altered operations for local prison systems towards more efficient and effective prison management without having to scale up personnel.

Changing Prisoner Visits

Aside from using RFID tags on prisoners, another change that has been implemented over the past few years has been the use of video conferencing in order to create a means by which families and friends can stay in touch with their loved ones that have been incarcerated in prison. Globalmed.com explains that this program was implemented as a means of enabling prisoners to maintain ties with their family members and friends outside of prison. Medscape.com states that by maintaining these ties and having the prisoners know that they have people missing them and waiting for them outside the prison that this can aide in their rehabilitation. Such a notion does have a lot of promise since it is thought that one of the reasons why criminals go back to being criminals after their prison time is over is because they believe that there is nothing more for them in society. If they can see that there are people that love them and are missing them, it is likely that rehabilitative measures are going to be more successful due to the desire of a prisoner to continue to maintain such bonds.

Creating Access to Online Courses

Another possible change that may be underway in the New Zealand prison system is the potential for prisoners to have access to online lessons. This can range from enabling them to finish high school or even earn a certificate for a particular skill such as plumbing, construction, etc. The point of this system is help prisoners integrate better into society once they are out of prison.


Through the implementation of an RFID prisoner tracking system, the job of the support staff will be that much easier since they will be able to immediately monitor and restrict the movement of prisoners throughout the facility. By knowing where all prisoners are at all times, this helps to reduce the need for a block by block examination of the entire facilities of the prison and makes their job safer since they do not need to be among the general prison population to conduct a daily headcount of the prisoners. Aside from this, the use of video conferencing also aides in helping prisoners realize the need to become a positive part of society through proper rehabilitation and potentially even taking some of the prison sponsored courses so that they will be able to have some means of earning a livelihood once they are out of jail.

RFID Road Stickers To Help Malaysian Authorities Track Cars

4 years ago it was suggested that people could use RFID windshield tags to help pay for everything from parking to checking if you have permission to actually go into a car park. Seems like Malaysia is looking at using a similar technology now to help track and monitor vehicles.

The system will run a pilot programme at a border checkpoint this October but could expand to cover all of Malaysia by the end of 2018. The sticker will be in the same shape and form as a road tax sticker and could be used to track all vehicles within the country, even going so far as to shatter and transmit warnings if you try to remove it.

The device is suggested for multiple uses including data analysis, tracking things such as the location of traffic jams and monitoring average speeds of roads and junctions.

The objections that currently are appearing to this scheme are the same that come out when any monitoring program is released or announced. By placing a tracker on every car, you could monitor specific people, even those who have done nothing wrong. While the details and identification codes for each tag and car would be encrypted, in light of recent news regarding digital monitoring and hacking, we are all far too aware that there is very little that can be called “secure” in the modern world.

Thank you Engadget for the information and the image.

Norton Develops Wireless-Blocking Jeans

Anti-virus service provider Norton has helped develop a pair of jeans capable of blocking wireless signals, designed to protect credit cards and passports from being remotely hacked via radio frequency identification (RFID) signals.

The jeans were designed in conjunction with fashion retailer Betabrand and uses silver-lined pockets to form a wireless-proof ‘Faraday cage’ that protect against RFID signals. The duo are also offering a blazer, integrating the same technology. Both items, priced $151 and $198 respectively, go on sale next February.

Source: BBC

eBay Looking to Place Interactive Mirrors in Changing Rooms

eBay is looking to move themselves into the brick-and-mortar retail world, expressing interest in implementing mirrors into dressing rooms that will offer the customer suggested accessories and product browsing – all available through a touch screen. These screens are being installed as a trial at the Rebecca Minkoff store, seeing them follow a similar path to online retail giant Amazon – who of which are preparing a store opening in New York. eBay is part of a movement to make our retail habits more interactive, providing users with simpler options to pick and chose clothing and accessories, helping them save time and quite possibly helping these stores to turn some extra profits.

eBay’s head of innovation and new ventures, Steve Yankovich, commented: “So physical retail, a showroom, I think will never go away”. This statement regards eBay’s positioning on store-fronts capabilities and viability moving into the future.

This whole experience will be utilized through an app installed on the user’s phone, meaning that these screens will be able to utilize the persons purchasing history and further help them to choose their garments. Clothes in these stores will be connected to RFID tags, allowing these interactive mirrors to recognize not only the customer, but the clothes that they are sampling for purchase. This system will allow shoppers to attach their purchases and test fittings to their personal profile, allowing them to track their favorite styling and brands as they see fit.

Here’s hoping they install some kind of strong security system as there’s a seemingly large possibility of hackers utilizing the cameras installed in these mirrors for personal benefit in criminal fashion.

Image courtesy of  Bloomberg Businessweek

Smart Guns To Require Confirmed Finger Print To Pull Trigger

A US company has come up with a solution that would essentially make it impossible for a person to fire a gun, so long as they’re not the owner of that weapon and yes that does sound similar to Judge Dread to me to.

Safe Gun Technology are claiming that this technology could prevent disastrous event, or at least some of them such as the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting where Adam Lanza used his mothers gun. Had that weapon been equipped with this system, he would not have been able to fire it. This isn’t to say that he wouldn’t have done something, but the company’s idea of taking a gun out of the equation can still have a massive impact on the outcome of a similar situation in the future.

By using a finger print to enable the weapon, which uses biometrics and RFID chips to configure to certain users it enables you to lock a device to a single or small set of people, effectively making stealing that weapon useless, much like the immobilize system on modern cars.

Unfortunately, there are no major investors interesting in this device and personally I think its a great idea, but it just doesn’t go far enough in terms of a solution. Fact is that even if you disable one gun, there are others out there and if someone intends to cause harm toward another, they will typically find another way of doing it, as sad as that may be.

The current technology in the devices uses quite old processors and components for the prototypes, but Charlie Miller, the Safe Gun Technology co-founder wants to see a smart gun produced within the next two months, with an upgraded prototype and even a retrofit kit within the next year or so.

It’s not a perfect system, not by a mile, but it is an interesting step and while ironically the person behind the idea is still planning on selling more guns, it’s good to see that someone is at least trying to tackle their misuse.

RFID iPourIt Self Service Beer System, To Pour or Not to Pour


The next time you go to a venue you may be offered self service beer. iPourIt, has offered a solution to patrons who like to drink beer, and businesses who like to serve beer. Businesses like bars, restaurants, casinos, cruise lines, stadiums, etc.

Each person who uses the service will swipe their government ID card (ie. drivers license), their credit card, and then they will be provided a paper RFID wristband that will allow them to use the beer taps. This gives the user and the bartender the ability to track how much alcohol someone has consumed. It will also inform them if someone has consumed a certain amount, also preventing the tap from continuing to pour the beer. There is an override where if a bartender deems appropriate will be able to override the system.

This works by having an RFID reader in each handle, which when an RFID wristband is next to the tap will allow a valve on the beer lines to open up to serve the beer when the tap is pulled. A workstation is used by servers and management to monitor and adjust settings.

With this system in place it will allow patrons to get their beer, allowing bartenders to focus more on mixed drinks. Also, virtually destroying spillage losses for businesses giving more profit! This could be the optimum service for a large popular bar. Not to mention iPourIt has a website where customers can see their history of pours where they have visited. Personally I don’t know who would really like to serve their own beer, as I do not drink beer. Though many people may actually enjoy using this service, with less wait times, allowing them to spend more time with their friends!