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Service Tracks Florida Sex Offenders, Issues E-mail Alerts

The services analyze, map and monitor the locations of registered offenders using public information.

Floridians can now get up-to-date information on sex offenders with a service that monitors data from public domains, delivering customized reports and e-mail alerts.

Soon, the whole country is expected to have access.

Safe Community Networks, based in Tampa, Fla., launched HomeWatch and HomeWatch Plus. The services analyze, map and monitor the locations of registered offenders.

The FBI has a link to 26 states' sex offender registries. Several other states have registries available online. Though the information is available for free over the Internet in most states, the company claims it would take the average homeowner more than 30 minutes a day to keep up with just a portion of the changes among Florida's 35,000-plus registered sex offenders and predators.

"By applying proprietary mapping technologies, we can show the location and status of offenders and predators in any area," Alec Rosen, public relations director of Safe Community Networks said in a statement released Monday.

HomeWatch allows subscribers to monitor a one-mile radius from each of two locations of their choice or locations selected from a list of schools and daycare centers. HomeWatchPlus allows customers to monitor five locations.

"That's really important, if you have kids in different schools, going to different neighborhoods, and going to different after school activities," Alec Rosen, director of public relations for Safe Community Networks said in an interview Monday. "We believe safety is knowing who lives in your neighborhood, near your home, near your place of worship, near the school, day care centers."

A request for a report on the vicinity of the Jose Marti School in Miami shows a map with a circle around the school and 16 icons of men at various intersections. All of the male icons are wearing yellow jerseys, except for one. The one in red is registered as a predator, considered by the state to be more dangerous than the other offenders.

Subscribers can click on an icon for detailed information, including the offenders' distance from the school, or they can scroll down to a numbered list bearing photographs and personal information. Safe Community Networks, founded this year, issues reports with maps, photographs, names and aliases, addresses, birth dates, descriptions of offenses, as well as the ages and genders of victims if available.

The company promises daily monitoring of information – gathered from public and private databases – and notification of the latest developments. It issues e-mail alerts for new offenders, changes in status, parole violations and changes of address. The alerts contain graphics similar to those in the reports.

"You can see a photo, know where they are and at least be able to discuss that with your family," Rosen said. "You can take precautions. It's being proactive and not waiting until a tragedy appears on the six o'clock news."

The information is only as accurate as Safe Community Networks' sources, and address data is scrubbed then matched with geographically coded street locations. New addresses and others that are not coded are lumped together and reported by county.

The company uses PayPal and is currently offering free sample reports. The service costs about $1.25 a month.

Safe Community Networks is working to expand its services to other states.

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