"We went from very expensive -- in one case, no longer being made -- components and a very expensive, custom-made kiosk shell to standard, off-the-shelf parts. It came out to be about a quarter of the price," said Abrams, noting that new design allowed the agency to reduce the cost per kiosk from $25,000 to approximately $7,000.
The DOP can source and deploy new kiosks more quickly and cost effectively than in the past. As a result, the department has expanded the number of kiosks from 14 to 20 and will soon add six more. They can also move the kiosks more easily.
Goodman said the kiosks were fairly easy to implement.
"We didn't require any funding because we did it all in-house, and it didn't cost very much," he said. "It made it an easy decision to make, and the agency had a real need. Because we had a previous kiosk program, the process was already there, so in terms of business re-engineering, all we had to do was determine which were high-risk and which were low-risk probationers, and then feed them into the existing process."
Share and Share Alike
Now that the kiosk hardware is redesigned, the DOP is working to rewrite the software, and the agency plans to use open source tools to curb costs.
"It's being written in Java running on Linux," said Goodman. "It will give us all the benefits of a Web-based application."
The new software will allow the DOP to centrally manage the kiosk system, and because they will own the software, they can also make changes along the way.
The kiosks are currently located in DOP offices, but once the software becomes Web based, the DOP will consider additional locations convenient to probationers and in police precincts. Probationers won't, however, be able to check in from home.
"We require a biometric, and right now that's difficult to do over the Internet," said Goodman.
The DOP uses hand geometry, but is contemplating moving to a fingerprint biometric.
Once the new software is complete, the DOP plans to make it available at no cost to other jurisdictions. Though that arrangement is still in the planning phases, Goodman said it essentially means if another jurisdiction wants the software, they can have it, providing they agree to share any improvements they make.
"We see the value the kiosk program has brought us, and we think that value can be very strong for other jurisdictions as well," said Goodman. "It's a fairly simple application for us to develop because we've been doing it for so long. We felt that if we shared it, other jurisdictions could get the benefit of our previous experience."
The DOP doesn't expect to see much additional cost savings following the $2 million they already achieved, but the department does expect to improve supervision of probationers thanks to the additional flexibility they now have.
"The kiosk has cost effectively increased public safety, and has become an even more important component of Probation's mission of supervising offenders in the community," said Goodman.