Staying ahead of the curve in the correctional security industry

Posted in: Building Engineering


Man in business suit presents to room full of security professionals
Tim Redden presenting at the National Sheriff’s Association Conference

As we look to the future, one of the biggest trends we see is the use of security technology—big data, video analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI)—to predict inmate behavior, and therefore enhance safety for all involved. These solutions can improve life safety and security issues for inmates and staff, make operations more efficient and effective, reduce staffing costs, make facilities more cost effective, mitigate liability, increase Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) compliance, and provide a positive environment that can actually change the inmate behavior to reduce recidivism.

  • Data-driven decision making. Of course gathering data is important, and we are seeing more and more ways to accurately collect large amounts of data. But we can take it a step further and put it to good use within our security systems: for example, we can gather data on equipment use and see how many times, on average, a door or locking system can be used before it fails. We can then evaluate this data to know which doors and systems are being used most frequently to develop a schedule for prevention. Once it hits a certain number, an alert is sent out to trigger preventative maintenance. This saves time and money and enhances staff and inmate safety.
  • Video analytics. Cameras are already widely used to increase security within secure facilities, some with hundreds or thousands already in use. This can be overwhelming for staff in central control to manage at once. Now, we have the ability use put analytics directly on a camera to enhance safety. For instance, a camera can be setup to watch for certain behavior, movements, or objects—such as color of clothing, line crossing, people counting, running, lying down, loitering and fast motion (such as a punch)—and alert staff who are monitoring. As identification technology improves, even more possibilities open up, like virtual escorting, people tracking and counting. All this technology works in conjunction with officers, enhancing efficiency and safety.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI essentially encapsulates all technologies into one, combining big data, video analytics, facial recognition, and people-tracking, and more into machine learning. Machines can be used to analyze various incidents that occur. What if we could use AI to aid our officers to help prevent incidents in the future? By tying all these systems together and tagging incidents, the machine can start to find common patterns that lead up to an incident. If it could learn patterns and behaviors, it could help identify when a situation could happen, and our staff could intervene before it actually does. The possibilities of this technology are exciting!

I and Lieutenant Jeff Heil previously presented on this topic at the National Sheriff’s Association Winter Legislative and Technology Conference in Washington DC. Jeff has worked for the Dane County Sheriff’s Office for 23 years. Our team at Mead & Hunt has been looking at ways to implement these technologies into our work at the Dane County Jail and the ongoing consolidation project. Our goal is to increase safety for all involved and release inmates back into our communities better than when they went in.

As detention security evolves, new and enhanced uses for technology seemingly spring up every minute. This is an exciting time—and we at Mead & Hunt are committed to remaining at the forefront to provide safe, effective, innovative security solutions.


Tim Redden

About the Author

Tim Redden is Mead & Hunt’s Security Technology Market Leader. With over 30 years of experience, Tim has provided security design for over 100 facilities and has been involved with the technology integration for another 900 across the nation. Outside of work, Tim enjoys spending time outdoors and with his family.

Read more posts by Tim Redden

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