Kiwis break into US jails

New Zealand-developed point-of-sale software is being used to track the purchases of every prisoner in each of the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons 98 facilities.

New Zealand-developed point-of-sale software is being used in American prisons.

The United States Federal Bureau of Prisons (USFBP) has chosen software from Auckland-based Synergetix to track the purchases of every prisoner in each of its 98 prisons.

Each prison has up to four shops (called Commissaries) where prisoners can buy foodstuffs, cigarettes and other products. Instead of carrying money, each inmate is credited an amount of money to spend, and the products they are allowed to buy vary according to privileges or demerit points. To date, these details have been tracked manually.

Synergetix Stars software will automate the process. A Kansas City-based point of sale company, Retail Solution Providers, is installing POS software in each location and will tie this in with the Stars system.

Stars team leader Tony Scott says the Synergetix module is easily added to any POS system for sales analysis. It has been designed to suit multiple POS systems, he says, because in many cases (outside the prison service) customers are trying to amalgamate information from small businesses with widely varying systems. "We've partnered with a number of suppliers to develop interfaces — and most systems are pretty open these days," he says.

Most Synergetix customers are in more "normal" businesses tracking their sales volumes and local customers include Amcal Chemists and Mackenzie Country, he says.

Retail solution providers have also taken the product into supermarkets and shops in Puerto Rico, Boston, El Paso and Rome, Georgia.

The USFBP is still deciding whether to run the POS and Stars systems over phone or IP but "every-thing's becoming heavily Net-centric these days, so I think they'll choose to use the Internet", says Scott.

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