Department of Corrections goes bi-modal to slash reoffending

New Zealand's prison service, which added 30 percent more screens in the last year, looks for increased speed and agility from the cloud.

The Department of Corrections, which manages New Zealand's prisons, is adopting a bi-modal approach to its technology development in a new IT strategy spanning 2015 through 2017.

Bi-modal IT involves continuing to support legacy technologies, while boosting agility by shifting resources over time into new Agile modes of development and being more accepting of unsanctioned "shadow IT".

According to the strategy, the care and development of existing IT platforms such as SAP and the bespoke Integrated Offender Management System (IOMS) - dubbed Foundation Delivery - will provide a platform for an alternate Agile mode known as "Digital Design".

Digital Design will open new capability quickly and at lower cost by cloud-oriented buying, building and "scavenging".

The department's IT will become iterative and adaptive and if necessary "fail fast but softly" while minimising reputational risk, the strategy says.

Released as part of a tender for cloud management services, the new IT strategy says the pace of business change has lifted dramatically.

"The cycle of aspiration-to-adoption of technology services has accelerated in a way never seen before. Gartner describe this as the 'nexus of forces' of social, mobile, cloud and information," the document says.

"It is a sign of the times that ... nearly all community-based staff now have a smartphone providing access to Corrections' applications, cloud and digital services. In less than a year Corrections has added 30 percent more ... screens with 4G connectivity to the internet into our environment."

These pressures mean past approaches are no longer viable to support Corrections' goal to reduce re-offending by 25 percent by 2017.

"Whether it be enhancing the technology available to staff - or providing access to new technology for offenders - it is clear that a new strategy is required to address these needs," the document says.

Providing greater access to technology gives offenders the opportunity to learn and improves rehabilitation and education outcomes. Mobile and real time access to information also boosts staff efficiency and safety.

As to the cloud, Corrections' says the shift is unstoppable.

"There will be a time when only the largest global organisations can afford to own and support a wide suite of bespoke applications," the strategy says.

Cloud services present opportunities to do things differently.

"Cloud-delivered services offer a favourable step change in cost and speed-to-market. The transition challenges are not trivial - but the outcome is essential.

"For many non-core and non-unique functions, new capability will be sourced from cloud applications - including All of Government provided cloud services."

The challenge, the document says, will be to maintain integration and integrity across these various platforms.

Structural change within the IT function is also likely.

"The IT organisational structure will change to reflect the establishment of the new operating modes. Change will be championed as an opportunity to refresh the culture of IT and provide mechanisms to engage with customers and suppliers in different ways."