Despite the growing use of technology in security operations, guarding is still a growing industry and the use of manpower is more important than ever. Today, however, it’s more than just putting a body at a gate and calling him a guard. Guarding companies and their employees are expected to do more and be more proactive, requiring a higher level of employee on the ground.
Yet, while the integration of technology into the guarding process is becoming more important, the human aspect can’t be ignored or relegated to an insignificant role. To find out more about how the guarding industry has changed, Hi-Tech Security Solutions spoke to two companies active in the industry about what goes into an effective guarding solution in a country where crime pays big dividends.
Our answers come from:
• Gary Tintinger of Enforce Security Services.
• Renato Ramos of TRSS Reaction.
Hi-Tech Security Solutions: Has guarding changed over the years from simply placing a body at a location to a more complete risk management service? If so, what are service providers doing differently today?
Enforce Security Services: Yes, it has definitely changed. In the past, security guards posted at strategic points of a site were sufficient to both serve as a deterrent to crime as well as respond to any potential threat. Obviously though, times have changed; crime has increased and criminals have become more brazen and far smarter.
Fortunately, technology has kept up with this change and now offers a wide range of options for security service providers. The beauty of this technology is not just that we have specific security systems able to perform specific tasks, but that these are all able to be fully integrated to provide a complete security and risk management service; it is basically being able to handle all aspects of security and risk management from beginning to end using various capabilities on offer from one service provider. And this is where private security is potent.
We also have to take into consideration that budgets are under pressure and many businesses are therefore taking shortcuts on their security, resulting in a poorer quality of service. This is another aspect that can be addressed by the concept of an integrated security solution. The ideal safety and security solution is a blend of better guarding skills, intelligence gathering, and new technology. It is a concept that places quality above quantity and ultimately results in not only a cost-effective solution to fighting crime, but the only tangible solution to crime.
An example of this is our Watchmen for Business strategy which involves a mix of capabilities including guarding, traditional alarm monitoring, remote video verification (RVV), real-time threat monitoring and management, armed response, and follow up investigations.
Traditional alarm systems offer an essential degree of protection, but having these systems connected to our Watchmen CCTV Towers gives us even more control of criminal threats. In addition to having guards physically on site, the live streaming capabilities of these towers enable business owners to monitor their sites in real-time from any location, while at the same time allowing our 24-hour control room immediate video footage of the site at the time of alarm activation. Using this, operators can accurately assess the situation, keep visuals of the threat, and dispatch the appropriate response.
With high-resolution imaging our control room is not only able to capture complete records of all activity surrounding clients’ business premises, but give a two-week data storage capacity should they need to access footage in the event of a criminal incident. Such capabilities also allow our private investigators the opportunity to view footage and gain vital clues during initial investigation processes.
Online event and incident reporting is also available on request, enabling business owners to regularly and easily check on historically-monitored activity which is smartly captured and organised.
TRSS Reaction: Definitely gone are the days where a night watchman is issued with a trench coat and a knobkierie, dropped off and told to stand guard at a property.
Tactical Guarding does a risk assessment of the property and a risk evaluation done on the goods or equipment we are asked to protect. In doing this we ensure that we cover all aspects of the client’s possible risks and we are then able to give the best advice on what security solution will work best for each individual client. Incorporating electronics and manpower seems to be the right recipe.
Each sector is unique in that we have residential, industrial, retail and commercial clients. Even in the same sector every client has their own unique challenges and solutions.
Hi-Tech Security Solutions: What processes does your company go through when appointing guards?
Pre-employment checks or screening
Enforce Security Services: We take 20 registered security officers a week and put them through a proficiency programme. Although they undergo some training, this is mostly an assessment process. We do criminal record checks, as well as verification of training certificates and registrations. We also test their physical abilities, fitness, vision, colour blindness, and very basic health assessment. Once they complete this programme, they are scored on overall security proficiency, and are matched according to what type of security they are suited for, such as retail, industrial, hotel etc.
They also receive a report and certificate, as well as a copy of their criminal record check.
• Selection: Only security officers who score 70% and above are considered for selection by Enforce. These officers will then be selected for an interview based on their profiles and clients’ site requirement. These requirements include gender, where they live, size, aptitude etc. They then undergo two more interview processes before being eligible to undergo our recruitment and induction process.
• Recruiting and induction: The induction programme takes place over a week and security officers are trained in a number of aspects. Here they will also learn what is expected of them by both Enforce and its clients. In terms of Enforce requirements, we cover code of conduct, discipline, pay, employment contracts, leave, rosters, uniforms etc. The client requirements include duties, reporting processes, shifts, patrols, access control and customer care. Throughout this process candidates are under constant scrutiny and if found to be unsuitable, will be disqualified.
TRSS Reaction: Background checks of security personnel are vital, where have they worked before and why did they leave. Just by two or three simple phone calls will save you as a service provider and your potential or existing client a lot of headaches in the future.
We do a PSIRA check to ensure that all staff are active and registered with PSIRA and their fees are paid up to date. We also verify all PSIRA and training certificates submitted by the applicants. We also make use of a company that specialises in tracking of security officers to ensure that if they have ‘accidently’ left off any previous employer’s information.
As most of our clients speak English, we do a simple verbal and comprehension test with all our staff as usually English is their third or even fourth language – with a minimum pass mark of 21/30.
A criminal check is done on the guard’s name and surname, followed by his ID number, to confirm he is who he says he is. We then take it one step further and do a fingerprint check/verification on a national basis and not just per province. Sometimes they may have committed crime in one province then they move to the next. Most suppliers of security personnel don’t check all provinces within RSA. This usually takes three to four days to complete, in that time, successful applicants go to our boot camp where we keep them for a period of three days.
Classroom induction and orientation is done and explanation of who Tactical Guarding is and what we stand for. Our code of conduct and company pledge (where we only expect the best) is also explained to them. Over and above this, we also do a little obstacle course which is situated right outside our Kyalami office in Midrand.
Training before deployment
Enforce Security Services: In addition to the training received during the induction process, the security officers undergo further training, including:
• General security practices learnership: Every officer employed by Enforce is enrolled to a skills upliftment programme which results in this full qualification.
• Firearm competency: Every officer employed by Enforce undergoes a one-week firearm training course. If he/she fails this, it does not mean disqualification. They will just not be permitted on a site requiring the use of firearms.
• Site specific training is also addressed in this phase: This training will be specific to the respective clients. These requirements vary from client to client, and site to site. Some training includes:
• Dog handling.
• National Key Point security.
• Retail security.
• Hotel security.
• CCTV operations.
• Control room operation.
• Driver testing.
• First aid, fire fighting, occupational health and safety. The basics of these are included in the learnership programme, but more advanced training is carried out when required.
TRSS Reaction: Each client is unique so no training is ever the same. Our operational team and sales team meet with our client and agree to the job description of what is expected from the security personnel. Once they have agreed to the job description and signed it off, it is given it to the training department to ensure that the 10 golden rules are learned for each client.
Training after deployment or on-the-job training
Enforce Security Services: This training is carried out by the training department as and when the need arises. The training is identified by both Enforce (compliance officers, key account managers, inspectors, supervisors, and the individual security officers) and clients. In such cases we will either do training on site, where the environment is conducive to the type of training required, or the security officer will be trained at the training centre.
Continuous training and evaluation is carried out by the compliance officers and key account managers as they proactively identify areas of need.
TRSS Reaction: Once our instructors have finished with the security officers, we take them to the respective premises and onsite training is done with the security staff that are to remain on site, with the supervisory team who have to do random checks and inspections on site, and by the area manager that met with the client. This ensures that everyone, from management right down to the security officers who perform the day-to-day duties are 100% familiar with the duties to be performed and what the clients expectations are.
We also keep record of all the training days and exactly what was trained on site.
Enforce Security Services: At the end of the day, security guards, regardless of their skills, experiences and capabilities, are human beings, with their own personalities, thought processes, and strengths and weaknesses. The training they undergo both before joining us (to qualify/become registered) as well as when they are employed by us equips them with specific skills needed for their roles and the kind of challenges they will face when dealing with people on their respective sites, ie. customers, employers, members of the public, and even criminals.
Obviously though, on-going training is given as their roles change or perhaps are adapted to respond to new security threats.
It is very difficult to train someone to become a ‘people person’, but when we employ guards, that is obviously a quality we look at. Having said that though – and in staying with the comment of each guard having different personalities – we do match our guards with specific clients to ensure a compatible working relationship which will benefit both parties.
For example, a guard employed at a retirement estate will have the type of personality and demeanour required when interacting with elderly people, while a guard employed at a security or lifestyle estate would have to be a bit tougher as he will encounter and have to deal with younger residents, juvenile delinquents, or perhaps even difficult homeowners within the estate. Likewise, a guard posted at an office park, dealing with companies and business people will have a different character and set of people skills to a guard posted at a busy shopping centre or even hotel.
TRSS Reaction: Guards are always in the firing line, the simplest explanation to the security officers is to know and fully understand your job description and what is expected from you. If you follow the job description and you know what is expected from you, you automatically radiate a certain amount of power and control. This being said, it might not always be enough, you will also need to use a certain amount of discretion as long as it does not jeopardise the safety and security of the client that we are contracted to protect.
Should the security officer still not be able to attend to the incident himself, we always have an armed response company, TRSS, and its reaction officer close by to assist, who in turn is backed up by the company’s own SWAT team.
Hi-Tech Security Solutions: Has technology made guarding different or better than before? Or is it just another add-on that delivers the same results? Or is it not really relevant to the guarding function?
Enforce Security Services: Technology has definitely changed both the guarding industry and the role of a security guard for the better, due to certain technical capabilities far exceeding those of human beings. Having said that though, these new advancements do not mean that there is now no place for the guard. On the contrary, the human element is even more in need. This is because the perfect security strategy is the blend of both technical capabilities and the abilities of a thinking and responding human. In essence, they complement each other.
So yes, technology has been a positive addition to the industry, but only because it gives a security guard – and the industry as a whole – an added advantage and many new capabilities.
TRSS Reaction: Technology has certainly enhanced the security proposition, such as CCTV, electronic access control systems, biometric readers, GPS live patrolling units, scanners and so much more. It makes information readily available and is always 100% accurate at the time of the incident. Most of the newer technology systems also make reporting of equipment and incidents possible in real time to all clients. There are no more excuses such as ‘I can’t read what is written here’ or ‘it rained and the pages got wet’.
Hi-Tech Security Solutions: What technology does your company use to manage and support your guarding services and personnel? Are there specific jobs or functions where technology makes a difference to the guard, the service provider and the customer?
Enforce Security Services: In addition to our management and supervision structures, technology is pivotal to managing our staff and sites, as well as providing transparency and open customer access to performance information. Our Guard SMART (Staff Management And Reporting Technologies) platform encompasses various best-of-breed technologies that are applied to contracts in order to achieve operational efficiencies and drive costs down.
Enforce has always been a pioneer in the field of security technology and we make use of new – and develop our own – technologies to keep on the edge of new advancements and capabilities. All of our technologies assist and support our guards, our customers, and us as a company.
One such example is the virtual inspector which we developed to assist with the inspection of security guards on remote sites. Historically, an inspector would need to drive hundreds of kilometres to check on guards at various remote sites every few days, but with virtual inspectors our control rooms can view live camera footage of our security guards as they report for duty.
This technology also safeguards the security guard as they need to check into the system at regular, given times, and if they do not, our operators can find out why. For example, a security guard will know that every hour he needs to check in and to do so he will press a button which will activate the camera and notify the control room. Our system alerts if he does not check in on time so we know that there is a problem.
This system not only assists us with monitoring our people, but also serves as protection for the officers as, if they do not check in, we will send someone to see why not. So in the past if a guard was, for example, accosted and tied-up, we would only find out about it the next morning. Now, in a matter of a few minutes we will realise there is a problem and dispatch the necessary assistance.
We also have a computerised incident management system in which every incident is recorded. The system manages and escalates incidents to ensure they are followed up timeously and full feedback is provided. Comprehensive reporting on statistics based on incident type, location and site and more is used to understand and manage risk in more detail.
We also make use of:
• Remote video monitoring: This high-end camera technology is used in conjunction with the Enforce Control Room to provide a never-sleep, 24/7 facility, which is geared to activate on breach and provide instant visual information. Trained operators immediately analyse the situation and can zoom in on detail to identify perpetrators, and then plan the action to be taken by the armed response unit. In this way Enforce can identify if an alarm activation is false, set off deliberately as a decoy while an offence takes place elsewhere, or establish the best approach to a crime scene.
Remote video monitoring is also used on sites that require the use of day and night guards, to provide a virtual patrol service and reduce manpower, thereby offering residents a cost-effective and technologically advanced security option, with no stay-away due to bad weather, strikes, labour issues or sleeping personnel to contend with.
While the cameras are continuously recording, the control room will also physically log into each camera on system at defined intervals to perform scheduled video checks of all key areas at the customer site for the early detection of potential threats. If necessary, operators can perform audio intervention and/or export video evidence for situation clarification. All operator activity is recorded for audit trail purposes.
• Biometric time and attendance systems which are integrated directly into our rostering and payroll system.
• GPS-based patrol monitoring: Our patrol monitoring system uses a combination of existing and custom designed technologies to create a real-time personnel monitoring environment. The system identifies any person on duty, their location and the amount of time spent in any specific area. This information is remotely sent anywhere in the world via established network infrastructures and protocols.
The patrol monitoring system allows for real-time management of guard patrols, instant notification of failed patrols and excellent statistical reporting. The system utilises tags placed along the patrol route which the guard must pass, or GPS based ‘geotags’ which plot the coordinates of the guard. As this is a real-time system, it also allows for dynamic changes to patrols and very complex patrol patterns.
• GPS panic system: Enforce utilises our proprietary mobile GPS panic system, Genie ICE. The Genie ICE application, which is powered by ICE PLUS, works with either GPS (Global Positioning System) or LBS (Location Based Services) and in just two taps sends an alert message to the Enforce control room, where our operators will assess the nature of the emergency and then dispatch the appropriate response to exactly where it is needed.
• Electronic incident management: We use the CHASE Electronic Incident Management platform throughout our operation which provides: Real-time incident logging; System driven security procedures; Automated reporting on security incidents, as well as feedback; Incident tracking and case management.
Chase also manages and escalates incidents to ensure they are followed up timeously and full feedback is provided. Comprehensive reporting on statistics based on incident type, location and site and more is used to understand and manage risk in detail.
TRSS Reaction: We make use of a wide variety of electronic platforms, from something as simple as a guard patrolling system we are able to dispatch the guard at random times to specific areas in or on the premises and prompt the security officer to give feedback to key questions – such as, ‘go to the roller doors’.
The officer will have a certain amount of time to get to the designated point, failure to get there will result in an alarm going off in our control centre. This also helps protect the security officer while out on patrol. If he arrives too soon, it will tell him to wait in the area until the pre determined time has lapsed, we can then ask the security officer is the roller door closed? Is it locked? All prompts on his patrol device.
Office parks have definitely moved away from the ‘book of truth’ as Trevor Noah refers to it in his show and more towards electronic scanning of driver’s licence, car licence and destination. All this information is stored off site and not able to be seen by the security officers and is 100% compliant with the PoPI act.
The heart of our business and of all security companies is our control centre. We have a fully integrated and compliant SAIDSA control centre where all incidents are logged electronically and immediately. Being a full corporate SAIDSA member means that our clients and our staff are assured that all signals and incidents recorded electronically and immediately on our servers from phone calls, two way radios, electronic occurrence books of events as and how they occur, to load shedding that cause UPSs to start for the 30 second delay before the huge diesel generator takes over etc.
Hi-Tech Security Solutions: Do you see technology working to cut down on the number of guards in the field, or is technology a supplement to the human guard to help them do their jobs better?
Enforce Security Services: Security technology is advancing at a rapid pace and it is therefore crucial that the guarding industry evolves with it. Obviously, from a job creation and economic point of view, we don’t want to see less individuals being employed, but the industry has to keep up with technological advancements and improve itself. We cannot deny though that security technology, such as CCTV cameras, does take away some of the roles that basic patrol guards are doing.
Having said that though, I do not believe we will see the day when technology will remove the need for people. Even with sophisticated systems, such as video analytics on CCTV cameras, there is still the need for the human element.
A security officer needs to be able to interpret what information or evidence his system is alerting him to. Technology can only provide an indication of something and then the human element is needed. Using an example, a camera may pick up possible criminal activity, but someone in a control room will need to assess that activity, decide whether or not it does in fact pose a threat, and then decide what action to take. It is for this reason that we do not see the eradication of guards, but the emergence of a higher calibre of guard.
The future security guard will be more skilled and technologically adept. He/she needs to be able to drive the hi-tech systems and technologies, with even access control now fully computerised.
In the past, the guarding industry was regarded as an ideal employment option for unskilled individuals, but this is quickly changing. If we look at some of the technology that is already out there in the corporate world, not-to-mention the types of advances that are still to come, it is evident that technology is definitely having a huge impact on the industry, and, as such, we as an industry also have to change.
Enforce has embraced the changes necessary in the security industry and adapted our training and operating models in order to produce a solid, integrated service offering, and the skilled professionals who are able to gather intelligence, interpret it and take the necessary action.
TRSS Reaction: The South African consumer still enjoys the human element and therefore does not replace guarding per se. However, technology supplements the security proposition. The correct training and support technology greatly reduces risk. However, on the bigger manpower sites, technology has definitely replaced the man in the boots. Making use of smart technology like video analytics makes the officers more efficient in their work space and able to do much more a lot quicker.
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