Growing Horizons of Electronic Monitoring

Dr S.S. Verma is a professor at Department of Physics, Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology, Sangrur, Punjab

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Satellite networks track the migration and territorial movements of caribou, sea turtles, whales, great white sharks, seals, elephants, bald eagles, ospreys and vultures. Additionally, pop-up satellite archival tags are used on marine mammals and various species of fish. Thanks to these systems, conservationists can find the key sites for migratory species.

Uses of electronic monitoring

In sports

Present electronic monitoring systems use new and improved apparatus and method to control a television system, which includes a replay recorder, to monitor events of interest during sports contests. When the indicator detects an event of interest during the contest being monitored, such as an intrusion or the presence of an object along a line or boundary, a signal is sent to the video replay recorder (also known as an instant replay system) to continue recording for a predetermined interval and then cease.

Electronic monitoring in sports

Electronic monitoring in sports

In sports contests, several types of indicators assist officials in monitoring events of interest, particularly those along lines or boundaries-such as determining whether a tennis ball lands in or out of play during a tennis match. One type of indicator is electronic-laser indicator. Other types of line indicators include those utilising pressure-sensitive tapes as the line or boundary and those based on the detection of magnetic particles in the ball.

In business

Video surveillance and business security systems are now used for everything from measuring efficiency to data security, and to compliance with securities laws. Businesses use video surveillance systems for a lot more than catching shoplifters or reducing the time employees spend goofing off. Employee monitoring is being used to increase customer satisfaction, improve employee performance and enhance productivity.

Employers justify monitoring of their employee activities as essential to protect the organisation from unwanted actions conducted over its network. The responsibility to secure the network outweighs employees’ expectations for privacy in the workplace. Balancing employee privacy and business needs is essential for developing an effective and defensible monitoring programme. While it is recognised that abuses may occur, these can be avoided by a participatory introduction of the new technology, allowing the workers some input into the design and implementation of the monitoring systems.

Medical and health use

At present, almost all the hospital activities are electronically monitored. Continuous electronic monitoring could save hospitals billions of rupees. Elderly people in care homes can be tagged with electronic monitors used to keep track of young offenders. Electronic monitoring can also be used to prevent dementia patients from wandering away. Use of electronic monitoring devices for inhalers is growing rapidly because of their ability to provide objective and detailed adherence data to support clinical decision making.

Electronic monitoring for medical and health

Electronic monitoring for medical and health

For animals

As mentioned earlier, GPS collars and electronic tags are being used to monitor animal behaviour in an environment, and track and study migration patterns, respectively.

For criminals

Electronic tagging is commonly used for people who have been sentenced to electronic monitoring by a court, or are required to wear a tag upon release from prison. With overcrowded jails and the high cost of incarceration, many states have turned to electronic monitors as a cost-effective way to send people home and free up jail space.

Electronic tagging is also used in immigration contexts in some jurisdictions. If the device is based on GPS technology, it is usually attached to a person by a probation officer, law enforcement or a private monitoring services company field officer, and is capable of tracking the wearer’s location wherever the satellite signal is available.

Electronic monitoring tags can also be used in combination with curfews to confine defendants or offenders to their homes as a condition of bail, as a standalone order or as a form of early release from prison. The combination of electronic monitoring with a curfew usually relies on RFID technology, which differs from GPS technology.

While the role of electronic monitoring in community corrections and the overall criminal-justice system is still insignificant, the technology has improved (especially with regard to GPS) and become an increasingly used criminal-justice tool. Using tracking systems, criminal justice agencies can monitor an individual’s location and be alerted to any unauthorised movements. Thus these systems can be useful in detention, restriction and surveillance.

Potential benefits of electronic tagging are cost savings to the criminal justice system and more optimal use of prison space. However, constant surveillance of people, particularly through the use of devices affixed to their body or implanted beneath the skin, raises serious civil liberty and ethical concerns.

For job performance

Productivity issues and misuse of the Internet during office hours are the main reasons why employers resort to monitoring their staff’s online behaviour at work. Various studies conducted by psychological scientists have found that electronic monitoring is, in fact, associated with higher performance; not only that, the more frequently the workers were monitored, the better they performed.

Electronic monitoring for job performance

Electronic monitoring for job performance

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