It’s amazing to think about how far GPS trackers have come in a relatively short amount of time.
Even as recently as 10 years ago, they were still used almost exclusively for turn-by-turn directions. When standalone GPS devices were replaced by the smartphone, an entire industry had to evolve — and that’s exactly what they did. People now use GPS trackers to do everything from assist with fleet management in a professional environment to monitor the actions of their teenage drivers.
GPS Tracking

Even law enforcement departments are getting in on the action, using GPS trackers to stay in the loop about the activities of criminals who live in their jurisdictions. That’s exactly what Queensland began doing over the last few years when they started tracking not only violent offenders but also people who had been tried and convicted of other types of serious crimes, as well.

Queensland and GPS Monitoring: Everything You Need to Know

Since February of 2017, 747 different convicts in a wide range of different categories have been outfitted with specially designed GPS trackers as a condition of their parole. In addition to violent sexual and non-sexual offenders, other tracked classes include but are not limited to people involved with property and fraud offenses, those involved in drug-related offenses, traffic and motor vehicle offenses and more. The program, which cost the state government nearly $2.3 million over the course of 2018, is said to have so far provided a large amount of useful data when it comes to managing offender behaviors.

If someone has a record of drunk driving, for example, one of the conditions of their parole may be that they’re not allowed to go near establishments that serve alcohol. Likewise, they were probably ordered to undergo some type of alcohol counseling. If the police are aware of your location at any given time, they can make sure that you’re staying true to both of these terms. If you go anywhere near a bar or other type of establishment, it will be seen as an immediate violation of your parole. The same is true if you don’t hold up your end of the bargain and attend the alcohol counseling classes you’re supposed to.

For as forward-thinking, as this particular program is, it does have a few limitations — and some significant ones, at that. While the program has the capacity to track nearly 750 people over the course of a single year, only 500 can be monitored at any one time. Meaning that essentially people cycle into and out of the program on an as-needed basis.

Likewise, not every criminal is being tracked in real-time. Some are being monitored retroactively after turning their device in. According to officials, only “Dangerous Prisoners (Sexual Offenders)” are subject to real-time monitoring 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days per year. If any of the people who meet that status breach their curfew or enter an area that they’re not supposed to be, officers are immediately dispatched. That isn’t necessarily true of other types of criminals like traffic offenders.

For everyone else, all of that movement data is tracked retroactively — usually when someone reports to their parole officer. Those officers can download the data to a computer and review a comprehensive list of all the places someone has been — and other facts, like time-related information in a matter of minutes. They can then make a judgment call as to whether someone has been adhering to their parole and whether more serious measures need to be taken.

Still, it will be fascinating to see how many other places around the world adopt similar programs in the not-too-distant future. With how advanced and affordable GPS trackers have become, not to mention the wealth of valuable data that can be obtained from them, it’s easy to imagine this type of thing become more common around the globe sooner rather than later. Queensland is expected to continue its own program for the foreseeable future.