All over the globe, there has been a consistent if not increasing demand for security services. A 2017 research showed that the number of security guards outnumbered police forces in most countries. The risk management strategies of many organizations rely on private security teams guarding their assets. And this means that if the teams are not alert or not performing as needed, it significantly increases the risks these organizations face. Driven by this need, many technologies to monitor security guards have evolved over the years.
In this article, we explore the importance of monitoring the guards, and the different methods organizations and security agencies use to do so.
Organizations rely on security guards to protect their assets. Even though there are advanced security solutions, such as CCTV cameras, motion sensors, and other intruder detection systems, security guards add another robust layer of security. These guards offer a quick response and thwart any attempts to damage these assets - other security solutions cannot do this.
But if these guards are not doing their jobs, if they’re drowsy, or not conducting their patrols, there’s no point in having these guards. Even if they’re alert, if they’re somehow incapacitated by an intruder, the security of the assets is significantly compromised. This is where a guard monitoring system comes useful.
For starters, these systems improve accountability. Clients who hire security organizations are guaranteed the guards’ performance. They have a record of the guards’ activities which they can inspect at any time. This in turn serves as an incentive for the guards and the security agency to ensure they perform their duties to the highest standards.
The second reason is that a guard monitoring system can alert the team as well as the clients in case the security is compromised. If a guard fails to report at their checkpoints at routine intervals, it could indicate that they’re somehow incapacitated or that they need assistance. With this, the technology helps the guards better secure the assets and at the same time ensure their own safety and security.
Another aspect is that it simplifies management for the security agency. A single agency may have deployed multiple security teams at different locations over a city. And it won’t be easy to keep track of all of these teams and ensure that the guards are present at their designated shifts. But a guard monitoring system provides a single dashboard to manage multiple security teams no matter their location.
And of course, these solutions present both security agencies and clients with a lot of data. They can use this data to patch any holes in security and improve their strategies.
Watchman’s clocks: A watchman’s clock is one of the earliest forms of monitoring security guards. They’re very rudimentary but they ensure that guards stay alert.
The idea is simple; the guards carry a small clock with a sheet of paper that marks time. Numbered keys are placed along the guard’s patrol routes. When the guard reaches these points, they’re required to insert the key in these clocks and turn them which would mark the key number at the specific time on the sheet. In the last couple of decades, analog watchman clocks gave way to digital systems.
GPS patrol monitoring systems: These systems became more common with the popularity of GPS technology. Guards carry these systems during their patrol which in turn would record their GPS location. Depending on the specific system, the data could then be downloaded through USB or uploaded directly to the cloud.
As smartphones with GPS systems became more popular, many apps that leverage them also came up. Even TargPatrol lets guards record their patrol routes during their shift. But the inherent drawbacks of GPS can be seen in these systems. GPS connectivity is difficult in indoor locations limiting the usage of these systems. And while devices specifically designed for this may have battery life, app-based solutions may drain a phone’s battery before a shift.
RFID guard patrol monitoring systems: RFID systems do an amazing job of tracking the activities of security guards. RFID systems rely on a tag and a reader. Tags are placed in strategic locations along guards’ patrol routes and guards are required to carry an RFID reader. When guards reach these tags during their patrol, the readers activate the tags which in turn send back signals with their information. The system then takes these signals as proof that the guard has reached the location.
RFID tags don’t need batteries to work and can last a very long time and under different conditions. The card and reader also don’t have to be in the line of sight, meaning guards can simply carry the readers in their pockets. TargPatrol works best with RFID.
NFC systems: NFC systems are similar to RFID systems or rather a different implementation of an RFID system. The system was developed for using RFID on phones and has a much shorter range - the reader and the tag need to be in close proximity if not in direct contact with each other. But the benefit is that if you have a smartphone that supports NFCs, you don’t need a separate reader to use it; you can just use an app like TargPatrol to track a guard’s route. And they take much lower energy compared to GPS systems.
QR code solutions: This is quite possibly the easiest solution you can implement to monitor your security guards. Using TargPatrol, you can generate QR codes which you can then place in locations along your guards’ patrol route. Every time the guard reaches this location, they can just scan this QR code to log their status.
While this is cheaper to implement, it has its drawbacks; QR codes can be copied. While it may not be completely palatable to believe, assuming the guards are honest about their work would be a security vulnerability and quite frankly negates the use of a guard monitoring solution. Another factor is that the process is quite manual. In the case of RFID or even GPS systems, guards don’t have to actively log their presence while in a QR code-based system, guards have to take their phones out and scan the QR codes many times during their shift.