Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search

 

Kiwi start-up FaceMe's rolls out prison video conferencing

Kiwi start-up FaceMe's Richard Branson tie-up leads to prison video conferencing roll-out

By Fiona Rotherham

Oct. 16 (BusinessDesk) - Video conferencing technology developed by local start-up FaceMe is connecting Tasmanian prison inmates to their families in a programme that could be extended throughout Australia and the US.

The Auckland-based company’s tie-up to the Tasmanian prison programme resulted from it winning $100,000 and mentoring from Richard Branson in the Virgin Business Challenge in 2011. FaceMe has since developed a relationship with Branson’s non-profit foundation, Virgin Unite, whose board member Jane Tewson is the founder of Igniting Change and the woman behind Red Nose Day.

Igniting Change has been working for the past three years with Hobart pastor Norm Reed connecting families at Tasmania’s Risdon Prison through video, which was initially done though Skype, but had limitations. Virgin Unite then suggested using FaceMe's technology.

Founder Danny Tomsett said they were looking at a five-year roll-out with Australia being the fastest-moving at this stage.

“Richard Branson has got some airtime with President (Barack) Obama to talk about this and I don’t know if that might accelerate it from here,” he said.

FaceMe did the Tasmanian project on a pro bono basis, but would charge for its services if the programme is extended to other jails within Australia and beyond, Tomsett said.

There’s also an opportunity to use the video conferencing technology for rehabilitation work provided by others within the prisons.

Reed said FaceMe’s technology used in the past few months helped extend the video conferencing to a new programme allowing male inmates to help their sons do their homework, including being able to bring the work up on screen. Teachers go into the prison and take the dads through the homework before they then help their kids, he said.

The pastor is talking to Australia’s Department of Education about linking inmates to their children while at school. The biggest advantage with FaceMe’s technology is its security, which is an issue for both prisons and schools, Reed said.

In a recent blog Branson said he had joined an imprisoned father and his son via video. The father told him his family lived a long way from the jail and being able to see them “is everything to me”.

Branson cited UK Prison Reform Trust research which found 65 percent of boys who have had a father in prison go on to reoffend themselves. Creating and encouraging healthy family contact whilst in custody can reduce the likelihood of inmate reoffending by up to six times.

“When I visited Ironwood Prison in the US last year, I could see how this could have an impact far beyond Australia. Now we are looking into rolling out this video visiting programme across Australia and beyond, creating a model for international uptake,” he said.

FaceMe's Tomsett said exposure from the project has been good for the start-up, which sells through distribution partners in New Zealand, Australia, and the UK, and in Hong Kong and Indonesia from early next year. Some 60 percent of its less than $5 million revenue is derived from Australia.

The Kiwi start-up is growing at about 300 percent a year, Tomsett said. It’s just finalising a series A investment round to raise $2.5 million and, once its Asian entry is underway, a series B round to raise a further $10 million is likely in another six months, he said.

The main benefit from Branson’s mentoring advice was the belief the company could be bigger than Tomsett first imagined.

“It was more inspirational than anything else,” he said. “When we went to the UK people saw we had won the Virgin Challenge, and it did open doors for us.”

(BusinessDesk)

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Westpac: Sets Out Plan To Go Cheque-Free

Westpac NZ has announced details of its plan to phase out cheques, after signalling in May that it would be supporting a move to other forms of payment. Cheques will cease to be available as a means of payment after 25 June 2021. Westpac NZ General ... More>>

ALSO:

NZTA: Major New Zealand Upgrade Programme Projects Go To Tender

Two major New Zealand Upgrade Programme projects are beginning tenders for construction. The New Zealand Upgrade Programme is a $6.8 billion investment to get our cities moving, to save lives and boost productivity in growth areas. The first Auckland ... More>>

Reserve Bank: RBNZ Seeks To Preserve Benefits Of Cash

The Reserve Bank – Te Pūtea Matua is taking on a new role of steward of the cash system “to preserve the benefits of cash for all who need them”, Assistant Governor Christian Hawkesby told the Royal Numismatics Society of New Zealand annual conference ... More>>

ALSO:

Economy: Double-Dip Recession Next Year, But Housing Rolls On

New Zealand's economy is expected to slip back into recession early next year as delayed job losses, falling consumer spending, and the absence of international tourists bites into growth. More>>

ALSO:

Microsoft New Zealand: Microsoft Expands “Highway To A Hundred Unicorns” Initiative To Support Startups In Asia Pacific

New Zealand, 14 October 2020 – Today Microsoft for Startups launches the Highway to a Hundred Unicorns initiative in Asia Pacific to strengthen the region’s startup ecosystem. This follows the initiative’s success in India, where 56 startups were ... More>>

Fonterra: Farmers Taking Another Step Towards New Zealand’s Low Emissions Food Production

They’re hot off the press and intended to help take the heat out of climate change. Fonterra farmers are already among the world’s most sustainable producers of milk and now have an additional tool in their sustainability toolbox. Over the last few ... More>>

ALSO:



Courts: Businessman Eric Watson Sentenced To A Four-Month Jail Term

New Zealand businessman Eric Watson has been sentenced to a four-month jail term in the UK for contempt of court, TVNZ reports. More>>

OECD: Area Employment Rate Falls By 4.0 Percentage Points, To 64.6% In Second Quarter Of 2020

The OECD area employment rate – the share of the working-age population with jobs – fell by 4.0 percentage points, to 64.6%, in the second quarter of 2020, its lowest level since the fourth quarter of 2010. Across the OECD area, 560 million persons ... More>>

Spark: Turns On 5G In Auckland And Offers A Glimpse Into The Future Of Smart Cities

Spark turned on 5G in downtown Auckland today and has partnered with Auckland Transport (AT) to showcase some of the latest in IoT (Internet of Things) technology and demonstrate what the future could look like for Auckland’s CBD with the power of 5G. 5G is ... More>>

Stats NZ: Monthly Migration Remains Low

Since the border closed in late-March 2020, net migration has averaged about 300 a month, Stats NZ said today. In the five months from April to August 2020, overall net migration was provisionally estimated at 1,700. This was made up of a net gain ... More>>

University of Canterbury: Proglacial Lakes Are Accelerating Glacier Ice Loss

Lake Tasman, New Zealand | 2016 | Photo: Dr Jenna Sutherland Meltwater lakes that form at glacier margins cause ice to recede much further and faster compared to glaciers that terminate on land, according to a new study. But the effects of these glacial ... More>>

ALSO:

Dairy: Fonterra Sells China Farms

Fonterra has agreed to sell its China farms for a total of $555 million (RMB 2.5 billion*1), after successfully developing the farms alongside local partners. Inner Mongolia Natural Dairy Co., Ltd, a subsidiary of China Youran Dairy Group Limited ... More>>

ALSO: