The Department of Corrections works to create lasting change by breaking the cycle of re-offending – public safety is their bottom line. As part of this mission, the Department is working to make New Zealand a better, safer place by protecting the public from those who can cause harm, and by reducing the rate of re-offending through:
Optimation, along with our partners, are tasked with the end-to-end application management, development, maintenance, and support of the Department’s business critical systems. We also provide a managed resource service to supplement internal capability.
The Electronic Monitored Bail (EM Bail) smartphone application project evolved from a wider Justice Sector initiative looking to reduce demand and pressure on the number of people incarcerated in the prison system on remand. With significantly more people on bail in the community, our team worked with the Department to find a way to reduce the number breaching bail conditions or deviating from their absence instructions and having to return to custody.
Optimation collaborated with the High Impact Innovation Program (HIIP) on the development of a smartphone application to address some of the challenges faced by defendants and the Department’s EM Bail team.
The solution is a smartphone application designed to improve compliance with bail conditions by putting more information in the hands of defendants and supporting them in better managing their individual outcomes. Additionally, an administration application was developed for the Department’s EM Bail team to manage the defendants using the app.
EM Bail creates a mobile portal that provides access to existing services and support to help defendants remain compliant with bail conditions, request leave of absences, and provide links to additional support services available from other government agencies and NGOs.
EM Bail users have instant access to their bail bond and conditions; they receive reminders to attend court dates; it provides information about support and rehabilitation services available (e.g. mental health help, addiction services, support services etc.).
EM Bail also enables faster processing of absence requests for appointments (e.g. WINZ, lawyer, court date, doctor, etc.). Before EM Bail, in order to request an absence, a defendant would need to contact a call centre, where there could be a wait time of in excess of 30 minutes for a phone call to be answered. This was very frustrating for defendants and often led to breaches of bail conditions. With the EM Bail app, an absence request is processed without the need for a lengthy phone conversation and the likelihood of a bail breach is reduced.
A key element to the rapid development and successful delivery of this app was the close collaboration with the HIIP team thoughtout the agile development lifecycle. Members of the HIIP team were located on-site with the Optimation team from day one, and actively participated in the sprint development process. This resulted in a high degree of transparency, which created a strong trust relationship between the respective teams. The combined team focused on developing a mobile application experience that was simple to use, but provides rapid access to key information, supporting resources, and understandable processes, in order to help defendants manage their day to day lives while on electronically monitored bail.
EM Bail was built using standard industry tools, as well as our own Apercu mobile platform, a collection of mobile application capabilities that accelerate the features and utility of end-user mobile applications to encourage adoption through a rich and interactive experience.
The EM Bail app is a mobile extension of IOMS (Integrated Offender Management System), the Department’s core frontline system to administer the approximate 10,000 prisoners in custody plus the approximately 30,000 people in the community who are completing community sentences, on bail, parole or electronic monitoring.
To find out more about what the EM bail application does, see the video.