Location technology driving innovation in security

Ben Howden /

As Bob Dylan wrote in his 1964 song "The Times They Are A-Changin". Go back five or so years and innovation was not on the agenda for most security companies. Rather than innovate, security companies focused on providing quality service and that was enough to keep them competitive in the market.

In today's world, quality service alone is not enough to win over clients. And to top it off security companies are facing increased pressure to drive more efficiency in the way they deliver their services, largely due to increased competition and lower margins. It’s a case of innovate or die.

But what do we mean by "innovation"? In its simplest form, I like to define innovation as a new idea, device, or method that drives value. Value is the key word here. Without value the new idea, device or method is simply an invention, not an innovation.

So in this new world, where innovation is the key to staying competitive, which new technologies are helping security companies innovate and drive more value? The answer is many - cloud technology, Internet of Things (IoT), big data, biometrics, intelligent video, to name a few. But instead of covering them all, I want to talk about one that we at Lighthouse.io are particularly excited about - Location Technology, and more specifically, Bluetooth Beacons.

If you're not familiar with beacons, they are small wireless devices that broadcast signals using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), or Bluetooth SMART technology. Mobile devices, typically carried by security guards, listen for beacon signals and record the location of the guards and other high value assets that are tagged with beacons.

Read our Beginner's Guide to Beacons to learn more about beacon technology and how it works.

Once you know the real-time location of your guards and assets, you're armed with data that can help transform your security operations. Think powerful reporting that shows location history, over servicing, under servicing and contract compliance. Think mobile workflow that facilitates interactions such as task lists, audits, distress alerts, incident reports and notifications for missed KPIs.

Now that you understand the technology (at least at a high level!), I want to focus on some of the problems that location technology can solve for security companies:

Not knowing who's on shift and where they are

Keeping track of employees is a big challenge for any company with a distributed workforce. By arming your guards with location enabled mobile devices you know when they start a shift, when they finish a shift and where they are at all times. If something goes wrong, you can go back in time and see the full location history of all of your guards. If you need to shift resources around, you can quickly get a bird's eye view of where everyone is and make a quick decision.

alt Figure: Live map showing real-time location of security guards

Outdated employee safety measures

Employee safety is paramount for any employer, particularly in high risk industries such as security. Some companies rely on manual check-ins for lone workers and cumbersome duress functions. Location technology can help improve employee safety through automated check-ins, alerts for missed check-ins and quick access distress functions that trigger a clear escalation process.

alt Figure: Mobile distress and check-in function

Non-compliance

Clients are demanding more transparency around performance against security contract KPI's. Location technology can improve contract compliance through automated alerts and provide clients with a controlled view of operations, service and compliance. In addition to this, employees can use their mobile device to conduct audits and ensure that quality standards are being tracked and met.

alt Figure: Automated alerts and log of missed KPIs e.g. patrols per shift, maintenance visits

Poor productivity

In a low margin industry such as security, improving productivity is a great way to improve the bottom line. Location technology allows you to replace paper-based processes with mobile forms (briefings, task lists, incident reports, maintenance records etc.) delivered at exactly the right time and the right place. You can also automate time tracking and identify performance issues, ensuring that you’re getting the most out of your guard force.

alt Figure: Mobile task lists and other forms triggered based on a guards exact location

These are just some of the problems that can be addressed by the powerful combination of mobile devices and location technology. If you work in security, I'm sure you can think of plenty of others. And beacons are just one example of a technology that is enabling innovation in security. We strongly believe that in order to be successful, security companies should be embracing innovation as a process that enables them to come up with, evaluate and introduce new ideas that deliver value to operations, employees and the customer.

If you're interested in learning about how location technology could drive innovation in your security business then email me or visit our website.