Stay Prepared for Physical Threats

Ryan Faith, TEAM Software by WorkWave, CALSAGA Network Partner

Physical security decision-makers at major U.S. companies reported a dramatic increase in threat activity in 2021 and expect that threat to grow, according to a 2022 study examining security challenges and opportunities.

The number of threats that companies will receive or investigate is expected to increase, and the scale of the threats that guards are expected to miss will expand, reports that same study.

Reasons for the expected uptick in physical threats include labor shortages, as there are currently one or fewer unemployed persons per job opening, which makes adequate guard staffing difficult, and economic uncertainties that could simultaneously encourage criminal activity.

Despite the current economic conditions, early preparation that focuses on reducing job hazards, improving safety protocols and ensuring that guards feel safer on the job can help combat physical threats. Staying prepared for physical threats also involves leveraging technology and working closely with staffers to review and improve current hazard plans.

Better monitor guard patrols

For guard monitoring, location tracking technology offers increased visibility over security operations by physically locating guards on duty and electronically recording and tracking their movements. Security professionals can use this type of technology to better identify incidents and respond in a timely, appropriate manner.

Risk mitigation requires making sure that guards are in the right place at the right time, so guards can respond to incidents as quickly as possible. Guard software that uses location tracking technology creates a digital log of incidents that automatically keeps track of updates and assigns security guards to help respond to physical threats.

Digital logs also ensure that physical security decision-makers have the information they need via email and those messages are sent immediately, whenever a new incident is reported. The accurate data derived from location tracking technology is available via on-demand reports, which can be reviewed at a later date to improve hazard plans and continue to mitigate risks.

Expand on-site visibility

While GPS is the most widely used location tracking technology in the industry, it is primarily designed for outdoor location tracking and can therefore be less effective when needing to track guards indoors. This is particularly true for multi-story and high-rise buildings since GPS has no ability to distinguish which floor a guard is located on. To track guards indoors more accurately, modern security software will oftentimes supplement GPS tracking with additional technologies such as QR codes, NFC tags, or Bluetooth Beacons.

QR codes and NFC (near-field communication) tags supplement GPS tracking by providing fixed points in a building that enable a guard to confirm their exact location on a particular floor. Modern software options will also pair data collection alongside these points, making it easy for guards to log any notable information (i.e., a back gate can have a QR code that when scanned, opens a “back gate log form”).

Bluetooth beacons are a powerful, albeit less commonly available, technology used for indoor guard tracking. Using beacons, security companies are able to track each guard’s location in real-time across multiple floors without the guard ever even needing to take their device out of their pocket. This technology is most commonly utilized in large facilities such as airports, high-rise buildings, or shopping malls where implementing individual QR codes/NFC tags might be cumbersome.

Regardless of which tracking is utilized, all of the listed options offer massive improvements over inefficient paper processes and manual record keeping. More so than ever before, having detailed data and analytics has proved paramount to staying prepared for physical threats, but also winning new business.

Automate periodic checks

At times, managers may notice their guards missing regular safety check-ins. Naturally, guards can get distracted, simply forget or find it difficult to respond in a timely manner. As a result, company operating centers can become inundated with missed check alerts and notifications, which can delay the response time to physical threats or other types of emergency situations.

There are tools that aid in the check-in process to help ensure that alerts are being sent and received during emergencies, so incidents can be quickly resolved. With an integrated workforce management system, when a scheduled periodic check is missed, operation centers are alerted and supervisors in the field can also be contacted. This helps employers follow up quickly to ensure their guards are safe and confirm whether or not support is needed.

Guarding software can also send SMS text messages to remind guards to complete their periodic checks. Employees can respond to those text notifications to close period checks without calling in. Enabling SMS text messaging reduces the number of outbound calls necessary to check on remote employees and  makes it easier for guards to complete their periodic checks.

A log of all SMS messages sent to and received from opted-in employees and job phone numbers can help a back office troubleshoot missed messages in the field. It also reinforces the importance of timely communication, especially during emergencies.

Encourage security guard safety

Industry advancements are being made every day in terms of physical security systems. TEAM Software by WorkWave offers a number of software tools to help support security guard safety. Lighthouse is our mobile workforce management solution, which specializes in location tracking technology and guard monitoring to help teams better respond to high-risk situations.

Ryan is a customer advocate who partners with TEAM Software by WorkWave customers to help identify where software can make their businesses more efficient, competitive and profitable. In his five years with TEAM, Ryan has worked alongside many of the world’s leading security firms and has developed a specialized understanding of the unique challenges faced by the industry.