WebRTC: An Ideal Communications Technology for Prisons
Posted On August 2, 2017 by Chip Wilcox in Blog, Ecosystem, Media, Unified Commmunications
A growing number of private and public correctional facilities are now using video conferencing to streamline communication between staff members, prisoners, family members and legal counselors.
In one recent example, the Bristol County Jail in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts, announced plans to replace face-to-face meetings between visitors and inmates with video conferencing.
One outcome the prison wants to achieve is a reduction in the quantity of illegal drugs making their way into the compound — a big issue that the prison has been struggling with lately. Video conferencing is an obvious solution. Once the transition is complete, Bristol County Jail will become the first institution in Massachusetts to ban in-person visits in favor of video conferencing.
Many other prisons across the U.S. are already using video chat and video conferencing solutions. The jail system in Travis County, Texas, for instance, has been using video conferencing since 2012 to enable monitored communication between inmates, family members, and lawyers.
WebRTC: Reduced Costs, Improved Communication
Prisons have two major needs when implementing voice conferencing systems: They need to be affordable, and secure.
Traditional video conferencing solutions are problematic for two major reasons. First, end users have less control over the storage, maintenance, and privacy of their data. And second, they tend to be very expensive.
An open source technology, Web Real Time Communications (WebRTC) can be used to power embedded video, audio, and data sharing, and incorporated into custom-built applications, to serve the unique needs of any developer, business, or institution that wants to use it.
It offers a high quality yet lower cost option when compared to high-end telepresence solutions. With regard to prisons, it can be used to provide a very safe, cost-efficient alternative to not only high-end video conferencing systems but reduces risks that are associated with face-to-face visits.
WebRTC is also secure, as the native code contains end-to-end encryption. Further security measures can also be implemented to protect data transmissions as they flow between in-house or cloud-based servers.
One challenge with WebRTC is that the open source code, by itself, isn’t a complete, holistic solution for video chat or unified communications apps. Companies like Temasys understand that being a communications technologist is not every developer’s forte, as well.
That’s why we built the Temasys Platform. Our SDKs and APIs help developers of all skill levels build, test and deploy embedded communications features in their web and mobile apps. The added benefit is that Temasys can support customers at any scale. So whether you are just starting out with a Proof-of-Concept or have an installed base of 100’s of thousands of users, our Platform can support you.
More ways to use WebRTC
Most prisons that are using video conferencing systems are working with platforms that only allow for basic, two-way audio and video communication between end users. And sometimes, as in the case of basic visitation, that’s all you need.
However, with WebRTC, prisons can expand far beyond basic two-way audio and video conferencing. Using the WebRTC Data Channel, users can transmit data directly between them — enabling the following types of services:
Medical consultations: Prisons often struggle to administer medical services to violent and dangerous inmates. Even providing basic consultation services is a challenge in these environments. WebRTC can be used to offer virtual consultations, which reduces the risk posed by engaging in physical visits and actually improving access to health care for incarcerated patients.
Job training: Companies offering job placement programs to prisoners hoping to re-enter mainstream society can use WebRTC to provide skills training, and to help rehabilitate prisoners, making the transition back into the outside workforce a little easier.
E-learning services: Prisons that operate on tight budgets cannot always afford in-person instructors. In fact, many universities find a healthy customer audience for their distance learning programs through inmate populations. WebRTC can help augment legacy learning management systems or provide more meaningful and personal tuition for inmates, by adding real-time video- or audio-enabled learning programs, office hours, or even small group working sessions, guided by virtual assistants.
To learn more about how WebRTC can benefit your institution, click here.