Technology evolution changing the landscape of guard services

Sept. 12, 2012
The pulse of the guard industry from the ASIS show floor

There was a time when the guard services market was merely a matter of an “our guards are better than yours” mentality. Today, as demonstrated at the ASIS show in Philadelphia, guard services has more to do with technology and providing complete security solutions than ever.

For guard services provider AlliedBarton, the focus is to act almost as a full-fledged technology consultant, recommending complete security solutions for its customers from the guards, to access control, to video surveillance, and more. “We don’t look at technology as a ‘competitor’ to manned guard services,” AlliedBarton division president Randal Dorn said. “We embrace technology.”

Indeed, the company works with eight technology partners to help build out a successful, complete security solution. According to IT Director of Integrated Services David Feeney, technologies that are adding to the effectiveness of guard forces include incident management and guard tour management software, and mass notification systems for situational awareness.

The strategy is similar at competing firm G4S; however, instead of technology partners, the company is developing its own technologies for use with deployed guard forces. One of them was launched at the show, Risk360 incident and case management software. The cloud-based application helps reduce costs by streamlining incident reporting, case management and risk mitigation while also improving business performance. But technology isn’t the sole solution – the company is using it as a launching point to create complete security solutions.

“Everyone’s got a hand-held gizmo, but nobody is taking a ‘systems, software, process and labor’ approach,” said Drew Levine, president of G4S Secure Solutions North America. “Normally, all of these functions are isolated – when you bring it all together, you create a much more powerful security solution.”

Still, getting the message out that the traditional guard services companies are in the business of state-of-the-art security technology deployments hasn’t been easy. “The biggest challenge is communicating to end-users this culture shift, this concept of integrated security solutions,” Feeney said. “We can be the top part of the pyramid that ties all the technology together and helps an end-user through the whole process of creating an integrated security solution.

Beyond the technology explosion in the guard industry, the market is still dealing with a large influx in the work force – mainly due to returning soldiers. AlliedBarton, for instance, has an alliance with the Wounded Warrior Project and has already deployed more than 10,000 returning heroes as security guards over the past three years.