The other three buttons—numbered 1, 2, and 3—are used to give more specific information about a site using codes (which can be a single number or a combination) predetermined by Theriault and programmed into the unit. For example, a 1 could mean no problems, while 2 could mean a broken or burned out light. Theriault gives guards a laminated card with a list of the codes and what alerts they relate to. Each unit also comes with a sticker for the back of the device on which the guard company can list the top 10 codes.
When a guard punches in a code, the system notifies the company of the guard’s exact location and matches it up to the code so that the company is notified of both the state of the location and the exact address.
The GPS locator within the unit makes it possible to track the guards in real time. Theriault and the client can see where the guards are at any time from a password-protected Web site that is maintained by GuardTrax. The Web site provides a satellite image of the property with information about the guard’s movements throughout the patrol. As noted earlier, patrol data can be stored locally by Metro Protective and its clients.
Setting up the system was easy, says Theriault. Initially, he had to work with GuardTrax technical support to program in a name for each of the 36 units. Theriault chose to assign names to the units by referencing the location where they would be used, rather than tying each unit to a specific security officer, because a site is not always patrolled by the same officer. The data collected can, however, be retrieved by guard or site, among other factors. Theriault can change the names via the Web site as needed.
Theriault is currently working on a pilot program to use the units for time and attendance purposes. Guards are assigned a five-digit PIN number. When they come on or go off duty, they punch the PIN number into the unit, using the number pad as they check out the unit.
Using the same wireless capability that enables the unit to send the GPS signal, the system sends the PIN number, sign-in time, and location information to a Metro Protective e-mail account accessible only by payroll personnel. “Before, we depended on guards to call in on a cell phone to a company representative when they arrived at work,” says Theriault. “Now we know if someone is logging in to work from their sofa.”
According to Theriault, the time-and-attendance pilot is working well and will be made permanent. The guard tracking aspect of the system, which has been fully operational for almost a year, is also meeting expectations.
The system has been used to determine whether guards are actually making the required patrols. In one case, a guard was going home instead of working her assigned patrols. She would then leave her home and return her GuardTrax unit to the company’s main office. Because the system could track the guard’s movements, Theriault was able to stop the behavior before it affected any clients. The device also gave Metro Protective the evidence to prove that the employee committed fraud by collecting thousands of dollars in compensation that the company should not have paid her.
The system also allows for easy verification of compliance with client requests, such as adjustment of patrols to meet client needs. For example, at one property, the guard was patrolling the outside of a building but rarely going inside. After noting this pattern, the client called and asked that the guard patrol inside more often. Theriault told the guard about the change, and the client could see the guard on the new patrol route the next day.
(For more information: Michael C. Petty, vice president of sales, GuardTrax Division, 908/458-4127; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)