By Tom Harman / Published Oct 2015
When security officers are patrolling a residential community or condominium, how does the manager or board know if the officer is surveying his surroundings at each location? The officer’s location can be documented at each point, but what did he do while he was there? Did he notice the resident’s garage door was open and report it properly? Did he hear and properly report the loud music from a condominium on his patrol? Did the officer notice the illegally parked cars while patrolling the property? If the officer did his job and properly documented occurrences on a paper Duty Log Sheet, the manager would not receive the information until the next business day or even later. Today, managers need real-time information delivered in a method that allows them to take quick action if needed. Outdated reporting methods could lead to liability issues and possibly litigation.
The private security industry has entered the 21st century yet, outdated methods are still being employed by numerous security companies. One such method is the officer clock patrol system. In the last century, security officers carried a large clock while patrolling the property. Keys stationed at various points could then be inserted into the clock, which would leave an imprint on a paper disk. This would allow the security manager and/or client to confirm that the officer visited each point in his tour. In the late 1970s, a computerized version of the officer touring system was introduced. It provided the same information the clock system did, but allowed the manager to download the tour and e-mail the information to the client via a data reader. Not truly high tech, but an advancement from the clock. While these systems can demonstrate that an officer was at a certain location at a certain time, it does not say what the officer did or saw. To get that information, the manager relies on hand-written reports, which always presented another set of challenges. The problem with these systems is that officers tend to get tunnel vision, i.e., focusing on the next point in the tour and not paying attention to their surroundings. New GPS technology has allowed contract security companies to alleviate these problems and provide documented information to managers, board members, or the maintenance team in a timely manner. This is done via a smartphone and using cellular service.
Technology in the security industry is most effective when it addresses one of three specific needs:
This software and technology not only helps create the most robust security program available but also answers the business needs of a manager’s responsibilities, such as maintenance, vendor management, response to tenant needs, and other key issues. With GPS enabled real-time reporting, officer activities are never in question and issues are immediately sent to the right person.
Accessible from anywhere, managers can now enter into a Web portal and see where the officer is in real-time or (a report of the entire shift can be generated). Reports can now be sent instantly with attached photos, video, or audio. Post Orders can be downloaded into each device with quick access for the officers as they conduct patrols. As the officer approaches each point in his tour, drop down boxes can ask if they checked the important items at each location. The new technology even allows the manager to set a geo-fence. If the officer leaves the area, management receives an alarm. Management also receives an alarm if the smartphone hasn’t moved in a designated amount of time. Goodbye “sleeping guards”. The GPS technology assures managers that the officers are protecting their property and that they will be able to notify the right person in a timely manner, whether it be a security situation, parking or maintenance issue, or some other circumstance. In an emergency, both phone calls and e-mails will be sent immediately, reducing liability and improving customer service.
MBA, Regional Manager
Tom Harman brings numerous years of government and security experience to Everglades Security Solutions. Prior to joining Everglades, Harman spent several years in the security industry in the D.C. market running the operations team for clients in five states. His law enforcement experience included working with the U.S. Secret Service, and he retired as a United States Park Police officer in Washington, D.C. His experience in law enforcement includes coverage of high level individuals, such as President Clinton and the King of Jordan. He brings a high degree of professionalism to the security industry and looks forward to serving his clients with Everglades.
Case Study: A large, gated community in the Fort Lauderdale area had a 24-hour vehicle patrol in addition to two manned entry gates. The manager could see the cost of the vehicle and fuel and did receive hand-written reports but couldn’t explain to residents where the patrol spent most of its time. Residents complained that the vehicle could be seen sitting in one area for extended periods of time. Others complained that they never saw the patrol in their part of the neighborhood. The manager decided to utilize the new GPS technology offered by the security company. The results were amazing. Not only could he show the residents a recap of the entire patrol, but now when the patrol sat idle, the security management team received an alert. Reports were sent immediately and allowed the security company to provide value and also represent the management company in a positive way. The manager stated that he would always use this technology in the future and has encouraged his colleagues to do the same. In conclusion, security officer tour patrol systems have come a long way since the days when officers were carrying large clocks to document their tours. Technology today allows managers to have real-time information delivered in a timely manner. Reports can be generated with photos and videos to the right person every time. Post orders can be downloaded into the smartphones, which aid the officer in the performance of his duties. The 21st Century has arrived for security officer accountability and HOA managers and residents are all the better for it.