Reliable guard tour systems help any business maximize the benefits of their security patrols.
A guard tour system is an integrated digital toolset a business uses to manage and log their guards’ rounds. These systems are often comprised of electronic logging wands, RFID tokens, wall-mounted checkpoints, and can even include GPS sensors for outdoor patrolling.
This article covers some of the best practices for designing and deploying your guard tours that we’ve identified in our nearly 30 years in the security industry.
While these practices are best applied when designing new systems, any security team can use them to improve existing security plans. Best practices in any form are general methods proven to deliver superior results on average across an entire industry. They are always meant to be adapted to each individual business and facility.
Define Your Security Goals First
Whether you’re establishing a new tour plan or updating an existing one, you need to start the process by defining your business’s overall security goals. Each business has unique security needs and unique risks that they must protect against. That usually leads to unique patrol and documentation goals.
Are you deterring theft? Detecting intruders? Monitoring confidential materials or information? Monitoring public spaces for accidents or other liabilities?
Is your security team expected to deliver documentation to management or your insurance provider? Make sure that your tour plan incorporates adequate documentation for any liability or incident reporting that you must maintain.
Align Checkpoint Deployment with Your Security Goals
Now that you know your risk and documentation needs, you can plan out your tour checkpoints.
The general goal is to maximize patrolling of the spaces and items of most concern. If your priority is to deter theft from an administrative space, place checkpoints at the back of each store room. If you have office space where staff work on proprietary materials, place checkpoints at opposite ends of that space to ensure guards are able to observe visitors anywhere. If there’s a heavily-trafficked doorway that must remain locked off hours, place a checkpoint right at that door and include a documentation check in your system for guards to confirm it is secured.
Digital systems also allow you to quickly and easily customize patrol routes that both maximize coverage and are unpredictable to attackers. Unexpected patrols are essentially force multipliers against attackers looking to bypass your physical security routines.
Using a contactless, or wireless, tour system can offer even more responsiveness, allowing for real-time guard check-ins and tracking for faster recall in emergencies. Be aware that different contactless systems are appropriate for different environments though. Ones using WiFi or Bluetooth checkpoints may not be viable in restricted environments like prisons or high-security facilities with strict IT security policies. Short-range RFID tour systems can be viable in a broad range of facilities.
Address Your Security Guards’ Needs
Human observation is essential to every security plan, and that means an effective guard tour plan addresses staff needs too.
First and foremost, that means keeping your staff informed. If your business is implementing these best practices, make sure your guards and other security personnel know the new objectives. They likely have valuable input into items your existing tour plan neglects. Then, keep them updated throughout the process. Keeping staff invested in a project is an easy way to help ensure success.
Just as important day-to-day is supplying proper equipment for your guards on patrol. That means defensive and protective gear appropriate for your environment, lights and other tools to enhance senses like vision and hearing, and lastly proper foot gear and clothing. Guards should be focused on the environment, not distracted by walking conditions or temperature.
Plan staff rotations to help keep guards vigilant. It’s a tenet of human psychology that we’re more alert and aware in novel environments. You need to strike a balance between having your guards familiar enough with their routes to identify concerns, but not so familiar that they become desensitized to the environment. Use your digital tour system to adjust or randomize patrol routes to aid in reinforcing guard awareness.
If you’ve assigned other duties, like alarm inspections, to your guards, make sure you’ve scheduled sufficient time for them to both complete those tasks and properly complete their patrols. Adding inspection tasks without also increasing overall patrol time creates a situation where your guards are compelled to cut corners.
Integrate With Existing Security Systems
Guard patrols are proven to be one of the most effective risk management practices businesses can deploy. But they are still just one facet of an effective security program.
Ideally, your business’s security should have an overall, integrated design, with complementary camera deployments, key control, access control stations, and patrol routes, with tools for managing everything efficiently. For example, knowing how your access control will route foot traffic through your facility can be quite useful in planning guard patrols to monitor for unauthorized access. Likewise, knowing where you have your most and least reliable camera coverage can also inform your tour planning.
Remember, best practices are methods proven, on average, across an entire industry. That means not every practice will be right for your business. Only you and your trusted security advisors can determine the best plan to meet your individual security needs.
Learn how the latest guard tour technology can enhance your business’s security.
About the Author
Shannon Arnold is the VP of Marketing and Strategic Partnerships at Real Time Networks.