Growing Horizons Of Electronic Monitoring

Dr. S. S. Verma, Editor Scientific India,Department of Physics, S.L.I.E.T., Longowal, Distt.-Sangrur (Punjab)-148106.

2017-07-08 11:54:19

Credit:  CEP Probation

Credit: CEP Probation

Monitoring of behavior, activities, or other changing information for the purpose of influence, management, direction, or protection related to human and animals has been there from time immortals.  This includes observation from a distance by means of electronic equipments or interception of electronically transmitted information. Surveillance is used by governments for intelligence gathering, prevention of crime, the protection of a process, person, group or object, or the investigation of crime. It is also used by criminal organizations to plan and commit crimes, such as robbery and kidnapping, by businesses to gather intelligence, and by private investigators. Monitoring and surveillance of workers have been time immortals, however, what makes the present situation unique, is the sheer scale of the monitoring; the extent to which the overseer is unobtrusive and the capabilities of modern technology for the storage, analysis and reporting of the gathered information.

Electronic monitoring is a program to provide structure, control, and accountability of people. It can also provide an extra layer of supervision with the goal of enhancing public safety in the community. Electronic tagging is a form of surveillance which uses an electronic device fitted to the person or animal. It is commonly used as a form of electronically monitored punishment for people who have been sentenced to electronic monitoring by a court, or 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. Thus, electronic monitoring not only saves the department money. However, electronic tagging and monitoring is also used in healthcare settings with people with dementia and 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 there is the satellite signal to do so. Electronic monitoring tags can be also used in combination with curfews to confine defendants or offenders to their homes as a condition of bail, as a stand-alone order or as a form of early release from prison. The combination of electronic monitoring with a curfew usually relies on radio frequency (RIFD) technology, which differs from GPS technology.


For the last few decades, electronic monitoring has acquired great dimensions of development in terms of monitoring devices and their applications in different areas like: employees at work place, crime control (offenders/ criminals/prisoners in and out of jails), drug de-addiction, animals (on land, in air and in water), vegetation, environmental & climate change, social amenities (health, banking, traffic, sports and air quality etc), adventurers and work seekers in remote and risky areas etc. Honesty, dedication and efficiency in the people of present civilization have become the traits of the past times. Most of us are not only shrinking away from our responsibilities but are also adopting ways of corrupt life.  Inefficiency and corruption in the society have reached at alarming levels. Electronic monitoring or electronic surveillance is gaining importance and seems to be dire need of the hour under circumstances when people on their own though with limited capabilities are not doing their level best in the job they are carrying out and the situation is worst in case of government employees. What really can change people’s behavior are social inputs like motivational factors, such as fun and adventure and pride and accomplishment, recognition, affection but electronic technology has also gone to make better positive reinforcement in this direction. Moreover, people’s governance or monitoring is losing its sheen as people can show favoritism and can tell a lie but electronics will never. Therefore, electronic devices such as CCTV, biometric registers, sensors, GPS (radio frequency bracelet and GPS bracelet), phones, e-mails etc. are  becoming the integral tools of monitoring everywhere with a hope that efficiency will improve.  


Electronic monitoring devices

The technology behind the devices continues to evolve. Where once it just used radio signals to detect whether someone was home, now many devices use GPS and cell tower signals to give precise locations. Monitors can detect blood-alcohol levels through a person's sweat. However, the system can have flaws. Devices can send false alerts. Sometimes, they send so many alerts that officers can't carefully look into all of them. Researchers hope electronic monitoring can even predict if someone is about to commit a crime before they actually do. Electronic monitoring runs from keystroke counting; telephone service observation whereby statistics are gathered on the duration, time between, and number of calls; telephone call accounting; peeking on to workers computer screens and into electronic mail; and the use of active or magic badges that can keep track of an employee's movements and locations. Increasingly, computers are being used to set tasks and performances for all levels of worker. If permitted, employers may view employees on closed-circuit TV; tap their phones, E-mail, and network communications; and rummage through their computer files with or without employee knowledge or consent--24 hours a day.


Electronic identification and monitoring are important tools within the management of animal husbandry systems. Electronic monitoring of rumination activity is an indicator of health status and production of animals. Remote monitoring of animal behavior in the environment can assist in managing both the animal and its environmental impact. GPS collars which record animal locations with high temporal frequency allow researchers to monitor both animal behavior and interactions with the environment. Electronic tags are giving scientists a complete, accurate picture of migration patterns. Tracking migrations is an important tool to better understand and protect species. Scientists today still attach tags, such as metal bands, to track movement of animals. Metal bands require the re-capture of animals for the scientists to gather data; the data is thus limited to the animal's release and destination points. Recent technologies have helped solve this problem. Some electronic tags give off repeating signals that are picked up by radio devices or satellites while other electronic tags could include archival tags (or data loggers). Scientists can track the locations and movement of the tagged animals without recapturing them using this RFID technology or satellites. These electronic tags can provide a great deal of data.


Telemetry, in general, involves the use of a transmitter that is attached to an animal and sends out a signal in the form of radio waves, just as a radio station does.  A scientist might place the transmitter around an animal's ankle, neck, wing, carapace, or dorsal fin. Alternatively, they may surgically implant it as internal radio transmitters have the advantage of remaining intact and functioning longer than traditional attachments, being protected from environmental variables and wear. The use of geolocators or "geologgers is the technology that utilizes a light sensor that tracks the light-level data during regular intervals in order to determine a location based on the length of the day and the time of solar noon. Receivers can be placed in Earth-orbiting satellites and networks, or groups, of satellites are used to track animals. Each satellite in a network picks up electronic signals from a transmitter on an animal. Together, the signals from all satellites determine the precise location of the animal. The satellites also track the animal's path as it moves. Satellite-received transmitters fitted to animals can also provide information about the animals' physiological characteristics (e.g. temperature) and habitat use. Satellite tracking is especially useful because the scientists do not have to follow after the animal nor do they have to recover the tag to get the data on where the animal is going or has gone. Satellite networks have tracked 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.

Use of electronic monitoring

In sports: The present electronic monitoring systems provide new and improved apparatus and method for controlling the operation of a television system, which includes a replay recorder, at sports contests to monitor events of interest during the contest. 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 a video replay recorder, also known as an instant replay system, to continue recording for a predetermined interval and thereafter cease. Several types of indicators exist for assisting officials monitoring events of interest, particularly those along lines or boundaries, at sports contests. Examples are those for determining whether a tennis ball lands in or out of play during tennis matches. One type of indicator is an electronic-laser indicator. Other types of line indicators include those utilizing pressure sensitive tapes as the line or boundary and those based on the principle of 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, to compliance with securities laws. The growth in employer surveillance systems is nothing less than stunning.  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 their monitoring of employee activities as essential to protect the organization from unwanted actions conducted over the employer's network. The responsibility to secure the network outweighs employees' expectations for privacy in the workplace. Balancing employee privacy and business needs is essential to developing an effective and defensible monitoring program. While it is recognized 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 in hospitals could save lot of money billions. Elderly people in care homes can be tagged with the electronic monitors used to keep track of young offenders. For persons suffering from dementia, electronic monitoring might be beneficially used to prevent them 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.

For animals: Understanding and predicting animal movement is important as it is central to establishing effective management and conservation strategies. Electronic identification and monitoring are also important tools within the management of animal husbandry systems. Electronic monitoring of rumination activity is an indicator of health status and production of animals. Remote monitoring of animal behavior in the environment can assist in managing both the animal and its environmental impact. GPS collars which record animal locations with high temporal frequency allow researchers to monitor both animal behavior and interactions with the environment. Electronic tags are giving scientists a complete, accurate picture of migration patterns. Tracking migrations is an important tool to better understand and protect species.

For criminals: Electronic monitoring, which is used to enforce the conditions of release for criminal offenders, strengthens the ability of corrections officials and law enforcement authorities to supervise offenders in the community by keeping them under closer surveillance than they otherwise could. While it’s role in community corrections and the overall criminal-justice system is still minor, as the technology has improved (especially with regard to global-positioning systems or GPS) and its potential upside made more apparent to policymakers, EM has become an increasingly used criminal-justice tool. Using tracking systems, criminal justice agencies can monitor an individual's location and be alerted to any unauthorized movements. The main potential benefits of electronic tagging are cost savings to the criminal justice system and the more optimal use of prison space. Technology, thus, can be useful in detention, restriction and surveillance. However, constant surveillance of people, particularly through the use of devices fixed to their body, or even implanted beneath the skin, raises serious civil liberty and ethical concerns. 

For job performance: Powerful reasons exist to monitor employee online behavior at work which are compelling many employers for it. Reasons like:  productivity issues are an employer concern and misuse of internet during working times etc. exist to place employees under electronic surveillance at work. Various studies conducted by psychological scientists have found that electronic monitoring is, in fact, associated with higher performance; not only that, more frequently workers were monitored, the better they performed. The results showed a positive association between the prevalence of electronic monitoring and job performance. The more often bosses used electronic monitoring, the better employee performance ratings were. In an effort to enhance employee performance, organizations like call centers are increasingly using technology to electronically monitor their workers on the job. With electronic performance monitoring, or EPM, supervisors can continually track and analyze an employee’s workflow in real time. When call centers use EPM technology, supervisors are able to review recordings of calls, as well as listening into calls as they happen. Electronic monitoring systems are also used to continually collect information on performance metrics, such as average call handle time, total number of calls handled, and time on breaks. Knowing that they could be evaluated at any time, but not on which calls they might be evaluated, employees would be motivated to do their best and work harder on all calls. The increasing reliance on new technologies has led to a real need for employers to monitor their employee's use of these technologies. Through the use of electronic technology companies are able to guarantee their customers receive a quality good or service in a timely manner. They are also better able to enhance employee safety, protect employer and employee property, improve accounting efficiency, provide perquisites and benefits to employees, enhance employee convenience and prevent fraud. In fact, electronic monitoring becomes an essential part to remain competitive in the global economy.

Objections to monitoring

Opponents to electronic monitoring in the workplace have been primarily concerned with the abuses of employers, and the consequent effects on workers privacy, performance and health. In many ways it is business interests that understand the issues that are stake - their ability to control the work process. Electronic surveillance invades workers' privacy, erodes their sense of dignity and frustrates their efforts to do high-quality work by a single- minded emphasis on speed and other purely quantitative measurements. Electronic monitoring produces pressure to perform. The range of stressful working conditions related to monitoring include: heavy workload; repetitive tasks; social isolation; and fear of job loss. These are exacerbated by the lack of job involvement or participation, and lack of organizational support.  Therefore there are "sociotechnical" triggers that can create direct psychological effects, besides generally adverse working conditions.  The monitored employees reported higher workload, less workload variation and greater workload dissatisfaction than the unmonitored employees. Monitored workers reported more somatic health complaints: musculoskeletal, psychological, and psychosomatic problems. However, what is also instructive about these results are the unacceptably high levels of health complaints for even unmonitored service representatives.

Electronics monitoring is gaining applications in various fields with lots of advantages and few disadvantages. The use of surveillance is a fundamental means by which the employer inexpensively and effectively exercises power. However, stress, inter-worker competition and performance evaluations are seen as important issues by business because of their ultimately detrimental effect on productivity and the smooth operation of the business. Management is concerned primarily with devising more efficient and less draconian means of implementing and administering monitoring systems. Generally, new monitoring technologies have been seen as extensions of traditional management prerogatives, leaving workers the opportunity to organize and collective bargain over workplace issues. Presently workers have few legal avenues to address the issue of workplace electronic monitoring. Similarly, electronic monitoring in case of animals also should be without harming their (animals) behavior, freedom and health.