Israeli tech firm takes on domestic violence

Israeli tech firm takes

elmo watch 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy of Elmo-Tech Ltd.)
elmo watch 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy of Elmo-Tech Ltd.)
A man convicted of domestic violence is approaching the home of his ex-wife. A restraining order does not dissuade him from entering the house, nor does a parole officer's threat of imprisonment, nor does a panic button given to his ex. By the time he arrives and she presses the button, it's way too late. This is exactly the type of situation Elmo-Tech, an Israeli company specializing in electronic monitoring tools and location verification technologies, seeks to prevent. Launching a new online platform in conjunction with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which was marked Wednesday, Elmo-Tech seeks to bring its domestic violence prevention technology to the attention of criminal justice officials, welfare administrators and organizations working to curb violence against women. Idit Mor, Elmo-Tech's corporate communications manager, said that while monitoring technology has been used for years, Elmo-Tech's product is the most comprehensive to date. "Restraining orders are the most common way in Western administrations of handing domestic violence cases and remote offender monitoring has been used in the Western world for some 20 years now," Mor said. "What is unique about our tool is its comprehensiveness: it tracks the aggressors and alerts the monitoring center, the victim and any other stakeholder of a potential interaction. It can even alert the aggressor, so he can retreat, and enables government administrations to determine whether a restraining order has been violated." The launch of the Elmo-Tech site comes after 14 US states have passed legislation allowing the use of remote monitoring technology in domestic violence cases in 2009 alone. "There is the technology readiness on the one hand and this legislation drive on the other," said Mor. "People are very happy with it - both with the system's technological capacity and the feeling of security it provides to victims." Elmo-Tech's GPS-based remote monitoring systems sets up a series of security layers around both the violent offender and the victim, automatically providing local enforcement agencies with early warning alerts should the two parties come close to one another. "This technology is based on anticipation," said Yael Arfi, a product manager with Elmo-Tech. "We want to anticipate an encounter with the aggressor, which is an important issue for women's organizations. "Let's say a restraining order says a guy has to stay 1,000 meters away from his ex-wife or her home," she said. "Like most monitoring systems, the guy will be fitted with an electronic tag. But we will also give him a GPS device that doubles as a phone and which he must carry with him at all times, allowing the authorities to contact him. "Then we also give a GPS device to the victim. So if he even gets close to 1,000 meters away, we can sent a pre-alert to both the monitoring center and the woman, giving them an extra step to be prepared and allowing the authorities can call the guy 'Hey, we know that you are getting close, be careful, we are watching you." "There are other companies that provide electronic tags or devices with panic buttons, but if she presses panic upon seeing the aggressor it will be too late," Arfi said. "We don't want to wait for a meeting between the two parties to take place before she hits a panic button, so we provide multiple levels of alerts, and there is no other company that provides this kind of anticipation technology. "We also archive the tracking data, making ours the only system allowing officials to provide a judge with extensive localization data about the aggressor," she added. Elmo-Tech's remote monitoring systems were first used by the Spanish Ministry of Equality in Madrid and the Balearic Islands and the company's offender monitoring technology is in use in various locations throughout Europe, North America, Latin America and the Pacific Rim. "We are very proud to be able to offer a viable tool for the global effort to minimize gender-based violence," said Elmo-Tech's Chief Executive Officer Dagan Sadeh in a statement. "With as many as 30%-60% of restraining and protection orders commonly breached, their enforcement is proving a challenging mission," he said, referring to US and Swedish data collected between 2004 and 2008. "Our technology offers meaningful support to enforcement agencies and victims." While women's advocacy organizations have welcomed the Elmo-Tech system, its effectiveness depends on governments providing the staff needed to both use the system and follow up on alerts. "We provide the technology," Arfi said. "Beyond this a country needs the resources to manage the information and the data and to respond. "The tool just gives you data, so you can't say you didn't know," she stressed. "You also need the tools to react."