Looking for the latest in high-tech guard tour systems? Then check out what one Hawaii facility did to revise its guard tour system. In Honolulu, it’s the 1.4 million-square-foot, four-story Hawaii Convention Center. While the local area focused on the cost of the facility, the economic boost to the community and potential traffic issues, the center’s security manager, Joseph Miller, kept his focus on making sure the facility was safe for visitors.

Miller has a security staff of 18, along with additional contracted help. They use a state-of-art guard tour system that works with touch tags, pre-labeled incident buttons and Palm devices. The Protrac security system, from Tiscor of Poway, Calif., helps regulate the security tours in and around the convention center.

Change from the Past

"I have to be honest, I was completely against the system at first,” Miller says. “I go back to the days of the old key systems.” Now, he says, there’s a feeling of confidence with the system in place.

The Protrac software system works with hand-held computers for establishing and monitoring security tours and facilitating equipment inspections. The convention center places small touch tags along various security routes at the center. When security officers make their rounds, they simply carry a small computerized touch-tag reader along with them in a waist-strap holder and quickly scan the tags in designated locations. When the device touches the various tags, it immediately records the date, time and location of each checkpoint visited.

If specific incidents occur, the security officers can quickly scan pre-labeled incident buttons carried in a handy pocket-sized case. This process keeps the officers accountable and alleviates paperwork. All scanned information is uploaded to a personal computer where it is retrieved as needed for reporting purposes.

There’s a Protrac software application that drives on a Palm device, too.

Officers using this system can record information by choosing specific preprogrammed incidents from pick lists on the hand-held or by entering answers to preprogrammed questions.

Since the the implementation of the guard system in 1999, tours have run more efficient.

“We don’t have as many security issues to contend with here in Hawaii in comparison to the mainland, so I didn’t believe that we needed a full-scale security tour system,” Miller says. “I also knew that our building was constructed with a lot of additional safety features. I wanted to make sure that we were not duplicating efforts. However, I discovered that with all of the many high-tech features our new building offers, there’s nothing that compares to the system we are using.”

“It is an excellent application,” Miller says. “I like the increased flexibility that the system creates when we need to use a ‘temporary’ tour. For example, from time to time, we encounter problems with people congregating in particular spots just outside of the center.” Using the system, the security operation can more easily add a ‘temporary’ route to regularly monitor the specific location.

The system was so easy to install, Miller recalls that it was up and running in less than one day.

“I began in the morning and finished up in the early afternoon,” he says.

In addition, Miller took advantage of the equipment inspection feature that the system offers. Barcodes placed on each of the facility’s 110 fire extinguishers make checking on that equipment routine. Setting up the system for fire extinguisher and safety equipment inspections took approximately four weeks.

“I took my time setting it up because I was strategically establishing the various routes for each one of my supervisors to monitor,” says Miller. “I’m a firm believer that if you invest a little extra time at the beginning to assure quality, it will pay off in the end. And, it has paid off for us tremendously.”

Upload Data to Computer

When the security team uploads the touch-tag reader to a personal computer at the end of each tour, the information is immediately ready for access and report preparation. Miller likes the fact that he can go back years later and quickly research security tour and equipment-inspection activities.

“While we don’t have to submit information to regulatory agencies, we do file reports with the state of Hawaii and the local fire department,” he says. “The fire department realizes that we use the hand-held computer system and are well organized as a result of it. They used to approach us about various extinguisher violations; however, they have not found anything wrong since the implementation of the system. The fire extinguisher and safety equipment inspection aspect of the system is one of the greatest.”

Another advantage: the system automatically identifies the location of each of the center’s 110 extinguishers at all times. If someone moves a fire extinguisher, the system quickly identifies the new location of it. And, inspection information still is maintained.

“We are also currently evaluating the feasibility of incorporating the automated incident reporting capability into our security patrols,” says Miller. An enhanced system, used with Palm devices, can prompt officers to record maintenance information and other incidents that could affect the center.

“The ease of recording more detailed information with this method is attractive to us, and there is a high probability that we will add this feature in the near future,” Miller concludes.