Streamlining Guard Tours with Technology
A security officer is often one of the most expensive and necessary tools in a security leader’s arsenal, but new technology is helping to maximize the investment.
When Mark Paige first entered the security in 1984, all security officers’ reports were hand-written, with a lack of standardized forms and tedious storage solutions. Now, as the director of security for Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas, Paige can take advantage of technology-based reporting, complete with easy document searching and compiling, trend analysis and real-time reporting.
For example, manual reports are time-consuming, performing an audit can take several weeks, and if a case in litigation requires a document of all slip-and-fall cases in the resort for the past three to five years? That could take an administrator days. Now, all Paige needs to do is hit a button to collect report histories.
“In an increasingly technology-driven world, ‘security officer’ is really a skilled position,” says Paige. In a variety of enterprises, officers can be responsible for monitoring surveillance, access control systems and alarms, as well as physically patrolling locations.
For telecommunications company TELUS in Canada, Dana Adams, CPP, CISSP, Director of Security, says integrating technology and the services of its own security resources and a contract guard force through Securitas is the key to successful physical security. TELUS needs to secure large office buildings and events as well as hundreds of remote sites and many thousands of miles of infrastructure.
“The default is to say we should place a guard there, but that’s not feasible at a remote site or along all our infrastructure. It’s also not feasible to secure a large office building with guards alone,” says Adams. “If you don’t leverage your security efforts with technology, you’re going to fail.”
In larger buildings, in addition to using security cameras, alarms, and video analytics TELUS makes use of systems such as Vision to electronically acknowledge guard rounds and track incidents that a guard must respond to. At smaller sites and along our critical infrastructure, TELUS makes use of creative solutions such as security camera surveillance and alarmed doors, enhancing the security of classic target-hardened physical structures through active monitoring by trained security professionals.
“It’s too easy to dump too many duties on the guards with their boots on the ground,” such as asking them to patrol too many areas, as well as perform value-add functions such as equipment checks, maintenance and other odd jobs, he says. Technology helps TELUS streamline their operations while optimizing security by eliminating busy-work and keeping guards focused on the important services only a professional on the ground can provide.
“Better technology and better training mean a better response. Moving forward, companies are going to demand a better-trained, tech-savvy guard force,” adds Adams.
And now, security-supplementing technology is moving outside the command center and into the hands of security officers. Guard tour tracking and tools can help enterprises better audit and monitor security officers’ efficiency and actions, as well as gain insight into incidents as they occur. Some solutions even enable security dispatchers or enterprise security leaders to request more information from the security officer reporting an incident while it is occurring, reducing the need to wait for a full debriefing after an event to gain insight and adjust procedures.
Bill Strother, CPP, is the Director of Corporate Security for Weingarten Realty, a commercial and retail property management company with properties in 21 states. While not every property has security through Weingarten, those that do mostly utilize G4S’s security officer force as well as Secure Trax guard tour management tools and Insight GPS tracking.
The system helps Strother and other property stakeholders better understand what happens at the properties in a real-time basis. The tools can also be used to alert officers to be aware of different things, such as BOLO alerts, updated directives and more.
Security officers can use the tool to complete incident reports from the field, cutting down on report time and enabling officers to add more contextual information. Strother’s team can program the tour management devices to ask additional questions specific to an issue to prompt the officer to add more relevant data. A water leak might warrant a simple “information-only” report, while a trip and fall might need more context (what was the person doing, was it an employee or a customer, what were the results, etc).
“This system is a living, breathing organism, and it changes with the needs of the client,” says Strother. “Daily activity paper logs are gone; officers can complete documents electronically, and they can be checked and followed up on more quickly. We use these systems together to maintain awareness and determine needed action.”
There are also auditable trails that accompany each report. If a supervisor sends a request for response, there is a record. As the security officer moves to respond, his or her GPS coordinates can be attached to that report. As the response is sent back with photos, video or just text, all of that is stored. Having these records electronically available means that Strother and his team can be more agile in creating an appropriate to show stakeholders where the challenging areas are.
At Red Rock Resort, the iView Systems security officer tracking system (Tour Trax) enables Paige to better perform risk assessments, as the system can accurately show where there have been issues in the past, such as trouble spots for slip and fall incidents. This helps to improve the accountability for the resort, as the reporting program provides insight into these trends and can help demonstrate improvement.
Guard tracking tools can also provide proof of presence at locations that are difficult to track without the help of technology, such as multi-level parking garages. At the resort, security officers use their tracking tool to scan different RF chips on each level, which can also be used to send new directives through, such as to check lighting on the third floor or to respond to a lost-looking customer on the second.
If an officer does not check in at all of his or her locations in the time allotted, an tour alarm is sent to supervision through email or on the system dashboard. The dispatcher can make a note of the reason why the tour was incomplete (perhaps there was an incident that required the officer’s time), or can investigate. “The system also has GPS capability, so if an officer is not responding for whatever reason, such as a medical condition or injury and cannot communicate, the GPS on Tour Trax will give you the officer’s location,” Paige says.
“This system has not reduced our security staff,” he adds. “It simply makes the officers’ jobs easier to manage.”
The iView system features a number of modules that help provide value to the resort as a whole, not just the security function. For example, as of January 2016, Red Rock Resort is using this system to also track internal maintenance tasks, such as sweep records to track when areas such as restaurants or restrooms were last attended or cleaned and by whom. The team member goes into the area and uses his or her Android-based device to note that they are there, and they use a dynamic tour system to check their completed tasks off of a customized action list, which is stored in the system, and then they scan out of the area when they’re done.