April 26, 2011
Renovo Software is right "at home" with internet video visitation.
Over the past year, correctional facilities across the United States have begun experimenting with internet-based inmate video visitation systems. These "at home" systems have been created in an effort to eliminate visitors at the facility and help generate revenue. Early adopters of the new systems have received positive feedback, but continue to struggle with adequately managing their visitation environment efficiently and connecting their "at home" systems to current visitation systems at their facilities.
Since 2003, Renovo Software has been providing stable, scalable, and highly configurable inmate video visitation systems to the corrections market. With that experience, Renovo is introducing their internet video visitation product, called VisAnywhereTM, in hopes of helping facilities reduce the number of visitors at the facility while increasing their revenue generation opportunities. Tim Eickhoff, Co-Owner and Managing Partner of Renovo Software, explains, "We have patiently watched the acceptance of 'at home' systems grow, all the while developing a system that is technologically advanced and in line with our philosophy of open video conferencing communication."
Eickhoff points out that not all current visitors have the ability to connect via the internet and not all facilities want to offer internet video visitation at this time. Many, however, may want to in the future. As Eickhoff states, "Due to budgets and policies, many facilities struggle with multiple visitation methods such as face-to-face, on premise and internet video visits. Our goal was to eliminate the need for them to choose only one type of visitation method and instead be able to offer a comprehensive solution."
Why Technology Matters
Early internet video visitation systems were essentially technology islands. Tim Skaja, Co-Owner and Renovo's main technologist, offers, "Imagine if Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon had their own proprietary communication methods. Those on Sprint could only talk to others with Sprint service. If Sprint ever went out of business they may never be able to make a call again."
The same can be said for these early internet video visitation systems, as many of these proprietary systems can't communicate with existing video visitation stations, arraignment stations, educational or telemedicine systems, and other standard video conferencing systems. Not only that, continuity of the solution is dependent on the very company the facility purchased the system from. Being dependent on a single company's proprietary technology rather than a standard, industry accepted, technology platform could spell disaster for a facility's visitation environment.
Skaja shared, "While we certainly could have taken the easy route and developed a proprietary video visitation system, we felt that it would be a disservice to the corrections industry, our customers, and prospects to offer them a solution that was fundamentally flawed. Not all facilities are aware of the differences between the technologies, and developing a system based on the knowledge that there was a better method than a proprietary technology is directly in line with our company's core values." As a result, Renovo's VisAnywhere is an open, non-proprietary, internet video visitation system that can communicate with existing video conferencing systems around the world and allows for easy upgrades to emerging technology; something that current customers can appreciate.
One of the main philosophies at Renovo is that as they add new product offerings, including internet video visits, they keep their existing customers in mind. This is another main reason that while developing the VisAnywhere solution, Renovo decided to use videoconferencing system standards instead of a proprietary system. Skaja explains, "If there's one thing we've learned over the years, it's that technology is ever changing. We want our customers to be using our system five, ten, fifteen years down the road, and the only way we saw that as being possible was to use the same technology that businesses, universities, and the U.S. Military are using today for videoconferencing."
Beyond The Video
Simply having the capability to have an internet video visit is not enough in today's market. Facilities must schedule, manage, and automate visits while effectively taking into account policies, quotas, restrictions, visitor registration, payment, recording, and monitoring. Eickhoff confirms, "Video visitation over the internet is nothing new; however, having a single solution that can manage face-to-face, on premise and internet video visits is what we provide and specialize in."
With over 60 video visitation customers, Renovo continues to enhance their system to incorporate the growing needs of their customer base. As Skaja comments, "We are continually asked by our customers to add new features, functionality, and enhancements and we encourage them to submit their ideas."
It's with this experience that Renovo is able to offer a visitation management system that can incorporate internet, at facility, face-to-face, personal, professional, and remote visits. Eickhoff adds, "With over 10 years of experience in managing videoconferencing and inmate video visitation environments, we look forward to solving the day to day challenges that our customers and prospects present to us, taking the video visitation industry to the next level."