Guard Touring Software

What do you think of when you hear the term “guard touring software”?  If you work in the security industry, it is likely that a large, heavy, rugged device, often referred to as a “Pipe” or a “Deister” will jump into your head.  You know, the kind of thing that would appear equally at home being used as a truncheon as it would be for swiping RFID tags!

If you are using one of these devices for your guard touring right now, you may wish to ponder over the following questions...

  1. How much time does it take for your security guards to bring the devices back to the office to be downloaded?
  2. Because the data is downloaded to a spreadsheet, have you ever considered exactly how much this information proves, in terms of guard activity and attendance? After all, a spreadsheet is designed to be easily changed and updated.
  3. What would happen if you were made aware of a security breach overnight, and you desperately needed to get a message to your guard to make a diversion to his tour, but all he had on him was his “Pipe”?

“Pipe” technology was clearly a leap forward from the time when guards had to fill out paper forms in order to account for their tour time and activity.  But in the era of Cloud computing and real-time 24/7 mobile communications, does this traditional kind of guard touring software really cut the mustard?  And what does it prove?

So then, what tools and systems are there out there now to replace the kind of devices that have proliferated the market over the last 20 years?

RFID Tags

RFID tags have been around for a number of years, and there is a flourishing industry around their manufacture and provision for all manner of tasks and extreme environments.

Each and every RFID tag that is produced has a unique alphanumeric identifier that cannot be replicated.  Electronics manufacturers soon worked out that the uniqueness of every tag manufactured offered an opportunity to associate the placement of an RFID tag with a location or place name.  In other words, if you could prove a transaction or “swipe” between an RFID tag and an electronic device, then you can basically prove that the device has been next to that unique tag.  If it can also be proven that the tag is, or was, located in a certain position, then potentially you also have proof of attendance.

But commonly, the recording of the proximity of the device next to the tag was stored on the device itself.  If there is no way of proving who was holding the device at the time, then not only is it difficult to prove the attendance of an individual at the location, but it is completely impossible to prove anything in real-time. 

Moreover, as most device-based solutions require the data to be downloaded to a locally based server or spreadsheet, the data could be tampered with.  This leaves the whole question of whether anything at all can be proven.

Near Field Communications (NFC)

NFC, the new technology on the block, was really invented by the mobile industry as a precursor to enabling payments to be made by swiping a mobile phone over an RFID reader or terminal.  If you have used an Oyster card on the London Underground rail network, then you have used NFC.

All NFC effectively does is enable a mobile phone to read an RFID tag.  So although it may be intended as a means of payment, its invention has inadvertently offered the mobile industry an opportunity to use the uniqueness of an RFID tag for guard touring purposes.  Because simply speaking, adding the real-time connectivity of a mobile network or GPRS connection means that guard tour activity can be transmitted instantly, but more importantly the inclusion of “cloud” computing means that the data can be stored centrally, in a secure location where nobody can tamper with it.  Quite simply, as soon as a guard touches a point within their tour, that data is transmited to a central location and there is no scope to alter that data.  In essence, at long last we have genuine proof of attendance.

Global Positioning Service (GPS)

Although in theory GPS should be able to be used to “prove” that someone holding a GPS enabled device has visited a certain place or location, the inaccuracy of the technology means that proving, in the true sense of the word, a guards attendance within a tour would probably not be possible from a legal perspective.

It would also make it impossible to prove guard attendance at multiple positions within sites or buildings, such as fire exits, doors, windows etc.

In reality, GPS will probably add some useful extra mapping and location based services when used in conjunction with an NFC and RFID tag solution for guard touring purposes.

Proving Attendance?

This begs the obvious question, how can activity and attendance genuinely be proven or tracked on a security guard tour?

  • Older RFID systems with storage devices can clearly be “intervened” with if the data is just being dumped into an excel spreadsheet or behind a provider’s firewall;
  • GPS is inaccurate as buildings etc can interfere with satellite visibility

It would appear then that a mobile phone based guard touring software solution using unique RFID tags, in conjunction with a cloud-based, secure, tamper-proof remote environment (such as Microsoft SQL Azure), is about as close as anyone can get to proving beyond reasonable doubt that a named security guard has been touring a specific site or sites at a certain time.

Would you trust your corporate liability insurance policy or even your personal liberty to anything else if the Corporate Manslaughter Act came into play?

How Much?

Near Field Communication

Buy Touch for as little as 65p per day, per device licence.  With unlimited end-user access, no setup charges and no maintenance charges... this is all inclusive.

Click on "Learn More" for our full price guide...

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Case Study

Cobra Security kicks out the "Pipe" for Touch and saves 14 hours per week, or over £10k per annum, in driver, fuel and administration costs aloneLearn more