Inovonics develops best practices for Enterprise Mobile Duress solutions

Inovonics, a Colorado-based provider of wireless sensor networks for commercial and life safety applications, recently announced that it has created a list of best practices as it pertains to the use of Enterprise Mobile Duress (EMD) platforms.

Although millions of Americans are impacted by incidents of workplace violence every year, Eric Banghart, senior business development manager for healthcare at Inovonics, said that workers in the healthcare sector are even more likely to be a victim of one these incidents when compared to the rest of the population.

“Even more amazing is how disproportionately healthcare workers and hospital workers and even frontline nurses and doctors are subjected to that, especially in ER departments, behavioral health and mental health,” Banghart said. “Those (areas) are really at the top of the charts, but it also branches out into all kinds of other healthcare environments - nursing homes, senior care and state hospital facilities – it’s just a pretty tough environment in general for a lot of these folks to work. If you think about hospitals with 24 hour access from the public, there are people in highly traumatic and emotional states. There’s a reason they’re in a hospital, not just the patients but the families and anyone around them. There are lots of different things that potentially a healthcare or hospital worker can be up against.”

According to a study released earlier this year that was underwritten by the Foundation of the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety (IAHSS), crimes at healthcare facilities increased by nearly 37 percent in just two years from just under 15,000 in 2010 to more than 20,500 in 2012. Crimes also increased in nearly every category including simple assaults, larceny and thefts, vandalism, rape and sexual assaults. In fact, 98 percent of healthcare facilities now experience violence and criminal incidents.

To help hospital workers and people employed in other campus-style environments alert security personnel of their exact location quickly and effectively during an emergency, Inovonics released its Radius EMD system several years back. When someone finds themselves in a potentially dangerous situation, they can simply press a button on a wearable pendent and security personnel can instantly pinpoint their location and respond. 

According to Banghart, there have been more than 25 deployments of the Radius system nationally, the majority of which have been in healthcare settings. In the course of these installations, however, Banghart said that a number of commonalities emerged, which is why the company decided to develop a list of best practices for the deployment of EMD.

“I think (these best practices) came about in several different ways. Some of it was certainly trial and error as we developed the product and as we took what was already a security-hardened platform that had been deployed in various ways,” he said. “But as we took it to the full solution set, we talked with the end users and customers themselves and we heard a lot of reoccurring (themes) about what is important or how people evaluate systems… and we started to gather this information and see a lot of commonalities. Some of it is from our own research and development as we put this solution together and some of it comes directly from the street or voice of the customer themselves."

These best practices include:

1). Accept the Realities of Today’s Workplace - Unfortunately, unexpected violence and the need for integrated security extends beyond schools, large office campuses and factory environments, and now includes hospitals, emergency rooms, retirement communities, and, in some cases, even automobiles and airplanes. Avoiding or ignoring this trend can prevent organizations from taking proactive steps to increase the safety and well-being of its most precious asset – its people. Additionally, today’s workforce and student bodies are highly mobile and must move freely across and between workplaces and campuses to be effective. This added mobility further complicates the creation of risk-free environments and extends one’s vulnerability to violent and threatening incidents.

2). Take a Holistic Approach By Extending Physical and Logical Security Solutions Beyond Physical Asset Protection -  An overall security plan for most facilities includes various blends of access control, video monitoring and intrusion detection. An EMD strategy augments current physical and logical security practices and systems, as well as existing security response protocols, by identifying the location, incident type and response needed in alert messages. EMD is a critical part of a comprehensive security strategy, strengthening that plan by adding an additional layer of protection focused specifically on the safety of highly mobile people within and around buildings and campus environments.

3). Extend Coverage Beyond High-Risk Areas - EMD systems need to cover any number of individuals at one time, in a commercial, public or academic setting. EMD becomes most effective when implemented across departments, entire campuses, or even multi-site locations to accommodate the mobility of today’s workforce working collectively to reduce the risk of incident by creating a coverage area that’s all inclusive. 

4). Embrace “Fit-for-Purpose” Enterprise-grade Wireless for Duress Systems - Life safety requires the utmost in reliability and performance. Make sure the wireless infrastructure used is interference-hardened, properly suited for security applications – supervised, battery backed-up, etc., and scalable to encompass the growing needs of an organization or institution and capable of delivering prioritized duress messages in a timely, uncompromising manner. 

5). Establish Policies and Procedures- Implementing an EMD system requires organizations to: develop policies and procedures to educate and train staff on the expanded role EMD plays in a security ecosystem; conduct ongoing education regarding when and how to use an EMD system to ensure successful threat identification and response; and, work to align the enterprise around response protocol, which may range from assistance from nearby staff members to a fully armed police or security detail. Also, to develop the “muscle memory” in those who may initiate an alarm as well as those responding, regular training and situational awareness should complement any EMD system deployment. 

6). Remember the Individual Who’s on the Frontline - As security professionals, we are trained to think about risk reduction, complex security systems integration and response protocol, but none of this is effective if the individual who’s on the front line isn’t a part of the process.  These are folks who benefit most from EMD and have the greatest impact on its effectiveness.  It is important to consider their work flow, comfort, concerns and most importantly, participation in any EMD deployment.

7). Make EMD and Integrated Security a Top-level Organizational Strategy - Enterprise Mobile Duress should integrate into business operations and help drive continuous improvements. It must provide system administrators the ability to survey and analyze events, such as the number, type, severity and location of duress calls, as well as response metrics to invite operational improvements that align the entire organization toward a common goal of increased personal safety and the elimination of workplace violence.

Inovonics recently announced that Radius has been installed at Exempla Saint Joseph Hospital in Denver. Banghart described this deployment, which is the company’s first in Colorado, as a “partnering project.”

“It gives us an opportunity to partner with a community health partner… and we’ve got a project to help with the future,” Banghart explained. “Not only does it raise awareness about the issue of workplace violence, specifically around hospitals, but it also gives us a couple of partners to work with as we develop future generations of this product.”

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