Thanks for coming back for Post 2 on "What makes a Great Guard Tour System".
Factors in choosing a Guard Tour System
There are two main types of Guard Tour systems, those based on proprietary hardware (often referred to as “wands”), and those based on smartphone technology.
In the case of a wand-based system, the checkpoints are typically RFID tags or steel “buttons”. Each button or tag contains a microchip with a unique serial number ID.Since they are the only form of input, the officer will have a personal button/tag to login/start, then will perform the patrol reading the checkpoints at each location visited. If there is an incident, he might be able to classify it using a different set of buttons specifically programmed for incidents. These devices are only designed to read buttons- there is no way to capture any other details of an incident. By the end of the patrol, or after several patrols, the wand needs to either communicate over a network or be connected to a computer (by means of a “Downloader” device) directly so the information can be transferred locally or to the cloud for reporting purposes.
In the case of a smartphone based system, the checkpoints are either QR/Barcodes or NFC tags. NFC tags work similarly to RFID in that they each have a unique ID that cannot be duplicated, while QR codes and barcodes are easier to reproduce and copy. In contrast to the buttons, however, location specific information and interactive elements can ALSO be associated with the NFC tag. When the checkpoint is read by the phone, information such as instructions, memos, digital forms and checklists can be sent to the user to view and complete as required. This really has a huge advantage in terms of training, and the officer can then enter details or even take pictures as needed. This data is sent in real-time over the internet to the cloud for reporting. With this solution, you combine simplified communication, efficient training and accountability with ease of use.
When deciding which path to take, you really have to look at several issues such as cost, durability and functionality.
Wand based systems have one real advantage in that they are custom built and therefore can be very rugged. On the other hand, smartphones offer a lot more in terms of functionality in that they have a screen, interactive capability, are connected full time to the internet, and have useful built-in hardware such as GPS and cameras.
That’s not counting the most obvious feature of a smartphone- it’s a phone and therefore a communication device. This reduces the need for guards to carry around excess equipment, as there is no need to carry a radio. The ruggedness concern of a phone can often be mitigated by putting it in a suitable case.
In our next Post, we will look at the the increase in accountability, productivity and insight gained from utilizing a Guard Tour System.
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