Do you know where your security guards are right now? Are you alerted to security issues and incidents in real-time? Are you able to provide your clients with reports that demonstrate they’re getting what they paid for?
A [Guard Tour System](http://lighthouse.io/security/" target="_blank) can answer these questions and provide a real-time view of your security operations across multiple sites. But before you decide to implement a Guard Tour System you should undertake an evaluation process to understand whether the solution you’re considering is going to meet your business needs. Here’s some decision criteria that will help you ensure you choose the best Guard Tour System for your company.
Arming your security workforce with mobile devices has the potential to drive huge efficiency gains and capture valuable data. Your Guard Tour System should offer a mobile app that helps guards be more efficient and effective at their job. The app should have the ability to track location in the background (even if the app is closed) as well as present content, checklists and alerts relevant to the guard's current location. Ideally the app should allow you to replace all paper-based forms and records that guards use throughout their shift.
The mobile app should also leverage passive location technology such as [Bluetooth beacons](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bluetooth_low_energy_beacon" target="_blank), replacing the need for active tracking through QR codes or RFID wands. This allows guards to focus on doing their job instead of scanning QR codes or tapping a wand against a check-point.
[Related content: Replacing RFID wands with beacon technology](http://blog.lighthouse.io/replacing-rfid-wands-beacon-technology/" target="_blank)
Mapping / location tracking capability
When you’re managing a large distributed workforce having access to real-time maps showing guards location is critical. It can help you pinpoint where your guards are at any point in time and allow you to make better decisions relating to unscheduled job allocation or issue resolution.
Moreover, mapping should also provide a historical view of guards so you can go back in time and see where you’re guards were. This is valuable data in the event that you need to investigate a security related incident where compliance evidence is needed. Heat maps can also add additional value, giving you a bird's eye view of where your guards are spending most of their time.
Image: Lighthouse.io real-time maps showing guard locations
Some systems also allow the tracking of assets that can also be overlaid on mapping. If the asset leaves a defined area, an alert can be sent to a guard or manager. This can be an additional benefit if your company is responsible for guarding or transporting high-value assets.
[Related content: Location technology driving innovation in security](http://blog.lighthouse.io/beacon-technology-set-enhance-delivery-security-services/" target="_blank)
Real-time data and reports
We are now living in an era of cloud computing where system data should be updated in real-time. Expect this from your Guard Tour System. If maps are delayed or you have to wait for report data to be updated take a pass and go for something that is built on the cloud and offers real-time data and reporting.
Exception reporting and alerts
Your Guard Tour System should have the ability to trigger exception alerts to supervisors or managers for missed KPI’s or checks. For example, if a guard doesn’t show up for a shift, a manager should be alerted in real-time. If a site doesn’t get checked as scheduled, a manager should be alerted in real-time. Exception alerts help you stay on top of service failures and enable you to quickly respond before your client picks up on them.
While consumer apps have been presenting us with slick interfaces and experiences for years, business applications have long been neglected from a usability perspective. Clunky, complex and slow are often words used by end users when describing the business software they are required to use as part of their job. Poor usability equates to poor user uptake so don’t overlook this factor when selecting a Guard Tour System. The mobile app should be intuitive to use and present information to the user at the right time and place. Managing the system should be a breeze and you should be able to get the workforce data you need quickly and easily.
Security companies typically spend a significant amount of time pulling together reports and data for clients. A good Guard Tour System can eliminate this by providing on-demand access and reporting to clients. Let clients access reports when they want them, saving you time and effort.
Onboarding / support
Implementing new technology within a business can be extremely challenging. Make sure the product you choose is supported by a comprehensive onboarding plan with training for key staff members. You should also have 24/7 access to support to help resolve issues and ensure you’re getting the most out of your Guard Tour System.
Want to learn about our own Guard Tour System that is powered by Bluetooth beacon technology? Click the button below.