THE MAGAZINE

Keeping Track of Tours

By Teresa Anderson

Metro Protective Agency provides contract security officers to companies throughout Salt Lake City, Utah. A good electronic guard tour system was critical to meeting client needs, but the system that the provider had in place was proving problematic. Aaron C. Theriault, the company’s assistant operations manager, knew that it needed to be replaced.

To use the system, Metro Protective’s 100 or so guards would carry a wand and then touch that wand to metal buttons attached to specific locations throughout the properties. The wand was supposed to record the location of the metal button and the day and time the guard was there. All of this information was uploaded to a database maintained by the guard tour system provider. It could be retrieved by Metro Protective when needed.

However, when the company retrieved client information from the database, it was often incorrect, says Theriault. In one instance, a client had trouble with vandalism at certain spots on the property and asked Theriault  for the guard records to be sure that regular patrols were being performed. The report showed that no one had been by the location on certain nights. The guard on duty was called in and reprimanded, but he denied missing any part of his patrol. When Theriault checked the report more closely, he found that the patrol times were 14 hours off, as if the guard had checked the property during the day when he was not on duty.

Time discrepancies were minor, however, compared to what happened next. When Theriault tried to retrieve information for one client, he found that all of his company’s information on all of its clients was gone. Theriault worked with the vendor to try and address these issues, but the problems continued. “We lost huge amounts of data,” says Theriault. “Everything was gone.”

Fortunately, by the time this major mishap occurred, Theriault was already looking at a new system. A former colleague who had begun working for a guard tour system provider had contacted Theriault a few weeks before the data was lost and told him about the GuardTrax system, manufactured by NovaTracker of Cranford, New Jersey. He researched the system and found several features he liked. One was that, instead of being stored on a server out of Theriault’s control, the patrol data could be stored by the guard company and the client. Another was that guards could be tracked in real time via the Internet.

Based on these points, he recommended the system to the CEO, who signed off on the change. As a result, when Theriault went to inform all the company’s clients that their information had been lost, he was also able to tell them that the GuardTrax system was being implemented. “This helped smooth things over,” he says.

With the new system, each guard carries a handheld unit that is a little larger than a cell phone. In addition to containing a GPS locator, the unit has a number pad with four programmable buttons. One of these is a red panic button for use in emergency situations. If pushed, the system will contact whatever number is programmed by Theriault. Currently, the system will call the field services manager, who in turn will call the police if necessary. If the police are not needed, the manager will send out another guard or a supervisor for backup.

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