Breaking the cycle of crime through innovation

multi-purpose digital prisoner management system

Innovate NI's Innovation Framework helped Core Systems to discover how to innovate successfully. A Platinum Level Innovator, they have used it to develop technology that is transforming the lives of prisoners for the better.

Innovation is the key to growing any business and keeping it ahead of the competition. But just having a great idea isn't enough; businesses need to follow tried and tested innovation management systems to successfully bring their idea to market and create value from it.

For Patricia, founder and CEO of Core Systems, a Northern Irish company with an impressive record of delivering criminal justice systems around the globe, Innovate NI's four step innovation framework provided the focus she needed to design, develop and market a new, ground-breaking product.

Patricia discovered that most prisons have over 20 different paper-based administrative systems to manage a prisoner's life, covering everything from food to finances. All that information is filtered through prison officers, who end up spending most of their time on administrative duties as a result.

Patricia believed that technology could play a vital role in helping the criminal justice community achieve their goal of rehabilitating offenders. but how, specifically, could her company help offenders become contributing members of society after release? Patricia knew how important innovation would be in the process. "Our product helps prisoners improve their mental health, employment, housing, skill development, mentorship, and social networks, as evidence shows that these factors have the most significant impact on re-entry success" she said.


Core Systems followed the Innovation Framework, of which ideation is the first stage. Patricia assembled a team to brainstorm ideas. This included staff from various departments, including those who knew their potential customers best, as well as her technology partners and those, such as prison staff, who were familiar with the problems of existing systems. The sessions generated many ideas.


The selection process involves a review of all the ideas, each one rated on several criteria. The one that scores best is the one to go with. In collaboration with clients and partners, Patricia looked at key areas. Did the ideas align with their business strategy?  How much would it cost to bring to market? At the end of the process, Patricia had a clear vision of the way to go - integrating digital services on a single interface.


Patricia and her team were continuously in contact with their tech partners, prison authorities, the Department of Justice, strategic channel partners and resellers to ensure their new concept addressed all the market needs.  Was it value for money? Was demand sufficient to proceed? The idea was further refined during development and testing, with feedback constantly sought from potential customers along the way.

The result was a multi-purpose prisoner interactive system that can be used on a personal device or in secure vandal proof kiosks. The system allows prisoners to be more actively involved in their rehabilitation to develop the kind of life skills they will need when they return to the community. It has provided meaningful opportunities to change their behaviour and transform them into contributing members of society.


The final process is commercialisation, which includes elements like marketing, branding, analysing the competition and launching the product. Patricia now had a strong USP to headline their marketing. With all the necessary services now integrated on a single digital platform prisoners could independently access the information they needed, such as e-learning or financial or personal information, saving time and money.

In Australia, where Patricia partnered with electronics maker NEC Corp, a deal was completed with Australia's largest and most advanced correctional centre. "Invest NI supported us to visit Australia where the local team provided us with market knowledge, contacts and introductions which were invaluable in helping us win this deal," Patricia said. With over 200,000 users, their core product is now the world's leading offender reintegration software. This long-term value earned them Innovate NI's highest recognition level, Platinum

If you have a new business idea, get in touch to find out how we can help you bring it to life.

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