High Tech Guarding: Is Security the Steamroller or the Road?
There has been a lot of tech rocking and rolling when it comes to security staff and their tasks of patrolling, protecting and reporting. In the past, technology used by a security officer was limited to a guard tour system device, a two-way radio, a flashlight and keys. Often there was limited communication and incident reporting was via paperwork and relied heavily on memory. Critical information was not shared effectively.
Fitting into an Officer’s HandsIt seems every time a new techie gadget is introduced, someone tries to mold it or force it into the hands of a security officer. Joysticks. Touch screens. Is the iPad next? Apple’s Steve Jobs might think so when he said that “I’ve always wanted to own and control the primary technology in everything we do.”
Avoid a Human, Technology DisconnectionYet Drew Levine, president of G4S Secure Solutions cautions, that as many push towards enhancing technology, businesses are learning that just investing in technology is not enough. He often sees businesses that have spent significantly on technology, but there has been a disconnect with their security officers. It is imperative that it is all tied together, he notes.
There is no disconnect for officers at Willis Tower, one of the world’s tallest buildings. They work smoothly with technology to deliver bottom line services from the 107th Floor on down. Keith Kambic, the tower’s director of security and life safety and earlier featured in Security magazine, realized a mindset change was needed after 9/11. His contracted service (AlliedBarton) “showed us that they could assist in controlling our costs, implement the newest in technology and place a greater emphasis on security officer training and customer service, too,” he says.
Two-Way Radios Continue to EvolveConcerning communications, two-way radios remain an important tech tool for security officers although cellular and smart phones have a growing role. Such mobile radios today are high powered, simple to use, and are available as low-cost units in VHF and UHF frequencies and wattage with a number of conventional talk channels. According to Brandon Ocampo of Two Way Direct, in open field use, VHF will travel farther, while in buildings, UHF travels better. Its Blackbox units boast 16 channels.
Security officers who welcome and manage visitors and contractors onto a site now have a number of options. Electronic access control systems often can include visitor management while firms such as EasyLobby specialize in standalone and access-integrated systems. There are solutions a security step higher than yesterday’s sign-in logs. In these applications, less costly, simple to use solutions are in the hands of security officers. Take, for example, visitor badging.
Reduce Cost, Improve SecurityThe endpoint: decreasing the physical footprint through broader security coverage that requires fewer uniformed guard hours, thus reducing costs while improving security.
For example, incident reporting and task management lets security conduct configurable data collection, workflow and analysis, ensuring compliance, collaboration and permitting organizational convergence, according to Julie Copithorne of D3. The e-alerts enable individuals to open a configured form to report events. Data can trigger automatic notifications, alert responsible security professionals, and prompt human audits to escalate or archive events, she adds. And geofences can be set up to reflect officer patrols and assignments.
Are the Robots Marching ForwardIs the ultimate future for security officers be robots and drones? There are continuing advances in patrol robots inside facilities and on the perimeter. Back in the late 1990s, companies such as Hitachi were assembling wheeled vehicles with sensors and cameras that could be programmed to follow a set route.
Who’s Guarding the Schools?School districts throughout the country face diverse threats from vandalism and theft to violence. At the same time, budget-strapped schools often depend on local law enforcement to provide officers on patrol inside buildings and around them. Often, only the largest districts can afford their own security officers.
So it is no surprise that many schools opt for increasing use of security video.
A case in point: In California, the Redlands Unified School District serves the communities of Redlands, Loma Linda, Mentone, San Bernardino, Yucaipa and East Highland with 23 elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as the Redlands Independent Study Education school.