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October 16, 2003

The Marion County Community Corrections Advisory Board today (Thursday, 10/16) unanimously approved incorporating into its electronic monitoring program technology developed by CELLTRACK LLC, a company located in the Purdue Research Park. Once field testing of the system is completed, the technology will be implemented. For more information, contact the company sources listed in the general information release (below) or Marion County Community Corrections.

Research Park startup launches improved electronic monitoring system

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – CELLTRACK LLC, a new venture located in the Purdue Research Park, is bringing to market a product that adds additional features and reliability to electronic monitoring for community corrections programs.

Ben Pobanz
Download photo - caption below

Today more than 110,000 Americans are electronically monitored while on community corrections programs. CELLTRACK's first product – Communication Assisted Tracking (CAT) – is a monitoring system that combines global positioning satellite (GPS) technology and digital cellular technology.

The CAT system, which consists of a hard-to-remove ankle band and a belt clip-on CELLTRACK unit, is the latest and most proactive product available to track monitored offenders, said Mike Copley, CELLTRACK's co-founder, president and CEO.

Communication Assisted Tracking prototype
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"Monitoring devices now on the market show only whether the offender is inside or outside of a restricted perimeter established by the court. These devices are used to catch those who violate their court orders," said Copley, who holds a mechanical engineering degree from Purdue University. "We have a different philosophy at CELLTRACK. Our unit's advance warning feature – an audio-visual warning called a 'Warm Zone' – gives the monitored person a chance to make good choices and turn back into the court-ordered zone."

Fewer violations mean less time spent by community corrections officers in bringing violators in, Copley added. The system also offers the reliability of a digital network and a variety of ways to communicate, including cell phone, text messaging or direct connect walkie-talkie.

"Unlike existing systems that store and send GPS data to monitoring stations through intermittent calls, our product uses Nextel's™ 'always on' digital network, which operates on its own independent platform. That means our tracking units are constantly checking in and communicating with the network and not competing with other cell phones for air time," said Ben Pobanz, CELLTRACK's co-founder and a Purdue graduate student in computer technology.

Future plans for the technology include its ability to aid in the enforcement of restraining orders, which previously could be enforced only if a violation occurred.

"My research to develop this technology began in 1997 after I watched a news report about a young woman who was stabbed to death by a boyfriend even though she had a court-issued protective order to keep him at bay," Copley said. "It was a senseless tragedy. As an engineer, I knew that the right technology could have possibly prevented that murder and other domestic violence incidents that occur in the U.S. each year."

Copley said that once a restraining order is issued, the protected party would be provided with a CELLTRACK unit. The person restrained would be required to wear an ankle band and CELLTRACK unit to be monitored continuously. If both CELLTRACK units come within a predetermined distance of each other, the CAT system would automatically notify the protected party.

"As state budgets face constraints and money for new jails is in short supply, the cost effectiveness and enhanced safety features of CELLTRACK's electronic monitoring will propel the company forward," said Joseph Hornett, senior vice president and treasurer of the Purdue Research Foundation, the entity that administers the research park. "We are proud the Purdue Gateways Program was able to connect CELLTRACK with the investment funds needed to get this important technology to community corrections programs."

Copley and Pobanz approached Sam Florance, Purdue's associate vice provost for engagement and director of Purdue Gateways, when they were ready to seek the capital needed to launch the company. As part of Purdue's mission to assist with statewide economic development, Florance worked to find the right angel investor for CELLTRACK.

"It's Purdue's mission to engage businesses and connect them with the resources they need to succeed," Florance said. "In this case, CELLTRACK's value proposition was so compelling that it took less than one week from initial review of the company's business plan for an investor to make a commitment."

CELLTRACK LLC is a technology solutions company that designs, patents and markets monitoring and communications products used in public safety. Company officials expect to add more than 20 employees to the payroll over the next three years.

Nextel Communications, a Fortune 300 company based in Reston, Va., is a leading provider of fully-integrated wireless voice and data communications services including Direct Connect®, the nationwide walkie-talkie feature; two-way text messaging; an all-digital network; and Nextel Online® wireless data solutions.

Purdue Research Park encompasses 591 acres in West Lafayette, and is home to the largest university-affiliated, state-of-the-art business incubator facility in the nation. Within the park, 104 businesses, of which 58 are high-tech, employ more than 2,200 people.

Writer: Jeanine Phipps, (765) 494-0748; jeanine@purdue.edu

Sources: Ben Pobanz, (765) 479-0875, bpobanz@celltrack.biz

Michael Copley, (765) 479-0636, mcopley@celltrack.biz

Sam Florance, (765) 496-6140, florance@purdue.edu

Joseph Hornett, (765) 494-8645, jbhornett@purdue.edu

PHOTO CAPTION:
CELLTRACK's Co-founder Ben Pobanz holds a Communication Assisted Tracking prototype, a product the Purdue Research Park-based company has developed that adds additional features and reliability to electronic monitoring for community corrections programs. The system's advance warning feature – an audio-visual warning called a ‘Warm Zone' – gives the monitored person a chance to turn back into the court-ordered zone.

A publication-quality photo is available at http://ftp.purdue.edu/pub/uns/celltrack.launch.jpeg

PHOTO CAPTION:
A Communication Assisted Tracking prototype. The product, developed by the Purdue Research Park-based company CELLTRACK, is designed for electronic monitoring for community corrections programs. (Purdue News Service photo/Dave Umberger)

A publication-quality photo is available at http://ftp.purdue.edu/pub/uns/celltrack.phone.jpeg