App-Based Monitoring Supports Client Supervision

woman uses BreathCheck app-based monitoring to measure her alcohol content

A recent study provides some valuable insight into the effectiveness of app-based monitoring devices. We have always believed that a small, discreet portable device like BreathCheck™ – connected to our app-based Client Portal – is an effective way to agencies to supervise their clients.

We were pleased – but not at all surprised – that a white paper by the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) Technology Committee reinforces the value of a quality-conscious, app-based monitoring approach.

It’s important to note that the APPA is very careful not to endorse any particular solution or technology. But it’s hard to ignore the fact that BreathCheck – along with Remote Check-In functionality through our Client Portal – fits the bill for app-based monitoring in a number of different ways.

We’ll tell you more about our other technology – including SmartMobile™ devices and SmartWeb™ caseload management – in future blog posts. But for right now, let’s put the spotlight on BreathCheck.

The Value of App-Based Monitoring

The 11-page APPA study drew from a number of academic and institutional studies to make some interesting observations, such as:

  • Smartphones have enormous potential to be an effective method of monitoring, since 81 percent of U.S. adults have a smartphone (with 95 percent between ages 19 to 29).
  • Apps are available that easily allow monitoring on a mobile device.
  • Accountability objectives can be achieved through features such as location monitoring (via GPS), remote reporting from any location, and check-in capabilities.

BreathCheck is our app-based solution for portable alcohol monitoring. It combines all three of those concepts to create a structure for client monitoring and supervision. We’ll tell you more about our other technology – including SmartMobile devices and SmartWeb caseload management.

“BYOD” vs. Vendor-Based

The study makes a clear distinction between devices provided to a client vs. a “Bring Your Own Device” (or BYOD) approach utilizing the individual’s smartphone. Smart Start has devices that fall into each category.

BreathCheck serves the BYOD app-based market, while our SmartMobile monitoring device – with built-in cellular capabilities – follows the standalone model. SmartMobile is remarkable technology that also relates to the APPA report in number of ways.

For these purposes, we’re going to focus on the advantages of BreathCheck as they relate to the APPA findings and the BYOD approach.

BreathCheck and Location Monitoring

The APPA study emphasizes the importance of determining the location of the device and the client. BreathCheck answers that issue with GPS coordinates that show you the location of a client at any given time.

Naturally, the APPA points out that location data is irrelevant if the client isn’t in possession of the smartphone. That’s why BreathCheck works closely with our SmartWeb™ caseload management platform. Together, they establish a customized check-in or alcohol testing schedule, as well as on-demand testing if necessary.

Discreet, Continuous Tracking

We believe that keeping track of a client’s whereabouts (or alcohol consumption) shouldn’t be a stigma. The APPA report agrees, citing cumbersome ankle bracelets in particular.

However, the report talks about potentially using a physical, body-worn “tether” device linked via Bluetooth. It would indicate whether the smartphone has been separated from the end-user. That would make it difficult to circumvent any tracking.

Smart Start answers the circumvention problem in an easier way:

  • If only a Remote Check-In is required, the client must have their smartphone in order to successfully check-in via Client Portal.
  • If remote alcohol testing is required, the client needs both BreathCheck and their smartphone, since the two are electronically tethered via Bluetooth.
  • Voice and video verification make it virtually impossible for someone else to check in or test in place of the client.

It’s not a true “continuous” tracking solution, following the client everywhere they go. It’s app-based remote check-in that ensures to a high degree of integrity that you can find out where they are at any given time – as many as 10 times a day. It also includes on-demand testing requiring a Check-In at any time with the click of a button.

Other Key Points

The APPA report skillfully presents a wealth of information packed into 11 pages. It’s too much to go into here, but consider three final highlights:

  • Monitoring authorities would benefit from learning more about tools that are available, and how they can achieve desired objectives.
  • They also need to consider the client groups that would most benefit from a particular approach. For example, lower-risk clients would benefit from Remote Check-In or portable alcohol testing through BreathCheck. Higher-risk clients might require a more robust solution like SmartMobile.
  • The ability to upload information – such as a change in living arrangements, contact info, or employment status – would be ideal. So would reminders from monitoring authorities of important appointments related to their legal requirements.

Fortunately, Smart Start devices are connected to SmartWeb, which serves as Mission Control for our technology. It’s a powerful foundation that lets you create customized schedules, easily see client activity, and get instant alerts whenever there’s a violation.

Visit our blog on a regular basis. Learn more about how our technology matches many of the suggestions and observations in the APPA white paper.

Please contact your Business Development Representative for additional information or a demonstration.