Corrections leaders face daunting challenges. With rising costs, continued high rates of incarceration and persistent rates of recidivism, agencies around the world are under pressure to focus on improved outcomes for offenders and deliver gains in operational efficiency. To further compound those challenges, the actions these leaders take are scrutinized daily by the government, by lawmakers, researchers and the media.
In individual discussions with dozens of chief executives and CIOs in agencies across Europe, North America, Australia and other regions, it is clear that the challenges which beset corrections are well defined. Moreover, they are highly consistent, regardless of location. What is also clear is the understanding that many of these issues are information-centric, and thus require fact-based solutions if they are to be effectively addressed. Not surprisingly, corrections CIOs, more than ever before, are being given a seat at the table to help identify the technology assets required to capture, analyze and present critical information to help agency leadership address these systemic issues.
Savvy CIOs know that the solutions they require are neither quick nor cheap, or even guaranteed to deliver the results the agency seeks. The planning and due diligence they must undertake to bring a solution to the table is considerable. Almost invariably, they are faced with the question, “Who else has done this?” from the agency’s chief executive. Said one CIO on a recent visit to his office, “you don’t want to get that question without having a good answer.” Where, then, do those answers come from?
The CTA is a good place to start. The Corrections Technology Association was founded nearly 20 years ago to provide a forum for CIOs and other technology professionals to exchange ideas, learn about emerging applications for corrections, and share experiences from significant projects. And most importantly, the CTA was formed to foster a network of like-minded professionals for advice and consultation when important technology decisions are on the line.
Over the years, the CTA has grown in membership and sophistication. At its annual Summit, CIOs and their direct reports come from numerous US states, Canadian provinces and large US counties to network with their peers over a well-planned, 3.5 day conference. In addition to industry-focused keynote speakers, the event features multiple presentation tracks to address the most pressing technology questions of the day. CIOs and vendor representatives team up well in advance to prepare non-commercial presentations related to major projects undertaken and emerging technology concepts for discussion. Best practices in technology evaluation, pre-project planning, project management and lessons learned are all part of a solid and full agenda. In formal discussions, as well as informal gatherings, the exchange of ideas and candid information is active and compelling. For me personally, the 2017 event will be the sixth Summit I’ve attended. At each one, I have been consistently struck by the response from first-time attendees about the value of concentrated information and the chance to meet and mingle with peers in their business.
For corrections CIOs, the 2017 Annual CTA Technology Summit represents the most important conversation available for key technology initiatives. This year’s event takes place in St. Louis from May 21-24, and it is expected that well over 200 practitioners and vendor representatives will attend. If your chief executive is about to ask who you’ve connected with relative to your next undertaking, the ability to respond that you are part of the CTA network will go a long way toward delivering the confidence needed to secure a green light for your project.
More information about the CTA and the annual Summit can be found at www.correctionstech.org. See you in St. Louis.
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