Various news media reported yesterday that for about 12 hours on Tuesday, a system used by some 900 government agencies in 49 states did not provide real-time GPS and other electronic monitoring information on about 16,000 parolees, sex offenders, and others due to a database problem.
This APreport said that the company that runs the monitoring service, BI Incorporated of Boulder, Colorado, reported that the system reached its data threshold of more than 2.1 billion records Tuesday morning. The records include GPS location information as well as curfew and alcohol monitoring data. The tracking/monitoring devices were still sending out information; however, the agencies were unable to view the data.
Apparently, the company had underestimated how quickly their database was filling up with information.
In a bit of an understatement, a BI Incorporated spokesperson said that:
"In retrospect, we should have been able to catch this."
Without access to the tracking/monitoring information, law enforcement agencies in various states began detaining those wearing the tracking/monitoring devices until the monitoring system was working properly again.
BI Incorporated has added enough storage capacity to allow a trillion records to be stored, the AP reports. The company also said it would be developing an early warning system to tell it when the storage limit was at risk of being reached.
Those wearing the tracking devices never knew that the system wasn't working, the AP said.
Robert N. Charette is a Contributing Editor to IEEE Spectrum and an acknowledged international authority on information technology and systems risk management. A self-described “risk ecologist,” he is interested in the intersections of business, political, technological, and societal risks. Charette is an award-winning author of multiple books and numerous articles on the subjects of risk management, project and program management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Charette was a recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s Golden Core Award in 2008.