Smart phones and the security industry

Mobile devices matter to our industry more than ever. We see it in the number of camera viewer applications and alarm system control applications that are becoming available on today's smartphones. It's been said by industry leaders like Honeywell's...


For corporate security, the existing benefits are more managerial than function, and already today, most corporate security directors are carrying a smart phone, so it's more about maximizing usage rather than adoption. For corporate security leadership, it's all about the alerts, and I can see the smart phone becoming a command center away from the command center. Based on alerts, corporate security management can find out what responses have been initiated and they can access their response protocols (saved on the phone or in the cloud). They can get system status reports; some may want an alert whenever the alarm system goes off, others may only want an alert when it's confirmed that it was indeed a real alarm. Corporate security leaders will adopt the use of video feeds to the phones, and they will become a communications point of being able to move the relevant information of a situation to the most applicable team member or group of employees. They will look at the company's smart phone usage as a whole, and they will consider ideas like like having remote store employees use smart phones to engage alarm systems. They will look at the company's overall adoption rates of smart phones and other mobile devices and consider how that could aid them in emergency situations or in the deployment of mass notification solutions. Phones that stream video both ways (up and down) will allow corporate security managers to put mobile surveillance cameras in the palms of employees' hands. The challenge for the corporate security manager is going to be about creating great ideas for tapping these smart phone and mobile technologies.

The manned guard services business is going to be the adoption laggard. Despite some really forward thinking technology developers and contract guard companies that are ready to train their security officers on how to use smart phones, in the end it will be the greenbacks that limit this switch. For most companies which hire guards, the push is to keep costs so low that there is no money left for smart phone technology for security officers. Yeah, it could be a huge benefit, because real-time patrol incident reports could be filed on the phone; video could be accessed by officers in the field; security systems (access and intrusion) could be controlled by one smart device; and digital reports and field notes could be shared between officers. But until there is more money spent in this side of the industry, I'm not holding my breath (and, yes, I know there are companies that are doing this, but the adoption is much slower than we all thought it would be). In a business where the lowest bidder still rules, smart phones are pricey equipment with pricey service plans. Companies that balk about $.25/hour raises for a guard aren't usually the same companies that invest heavily in business performance technologies.

In the world of product manufacturers, I'll keep it brief. They will continue to develop loads of applications and smart phone accessible tools for the systems. Some solutions will stick, others won't, but they'll continue to crank them out as fast as they can and as soon as they have those new ideas.

-Geoff