Mobile Applications Are Empowering Security Personnel

From real-time surveillance and access control management to remote monitoring and communications, a new generation of mobile applications is empowering security personnel to protect people and places. Mobile applications for physical security systems are emerging as indispensable tools to enhance safety. They also offer many features that are reshaping how modern security professionals approach their work.

Mobile apps with more limited functionality, such as those designed to access video surveillance feeds, have been around for a few years. However, a new generation of apps offers so much more.

Today, security software providers offer mobile apps that allow you to do almost anything you could do on a desktop computer. Security officers can step away from their desks to patrol and still be available to check video feeds, see alerts, answer intercom inquiries, or buzz in visitors from a mobile device.

Step Outside the SOC
Mobile applications streamline operations and ensure a prompt and agile response to potential threats. Without these apps, the guards operating separately from the Security Operations Center (SOC) may miss critical information that could help.

Imagine that you’re a security guard at a big stadium during a major event. A mother runs up to you and breathlessly states that she can’t find her child. If you have access to a mobile security app, you can ask the mother for a photo and other details about the child, create an incident, and alert every officer in the arena to look for that child.

Back at the SOC, security teams can check camera feeds and other data to try to find out where the child was previously seen. If they find a clue to the child’s location, they can immediately broadcast this information to the officers on the ground.

As officers investigate, they add the information they learn to the incident report. A short time later, one of your colleagues spots the child and messages the team. They then communicate the location where the parent will reunite with their child.

Improve Team Communication and Collaboration
In seaports, large data centers, production and manufacturing facilities, critical infrastructure sites, and other high-risk outdoor locations, it can be challenging to monitor what’s going on. Yet, the consequences of a breach or equipment failure may be catastrophic. In facilities like these, every employee can have the ability to quickly and easily report issues or suspicious activity to the SOC with the help of mobile apps.

A key advantage of these apps is better collaboration and communication within security teams. With the ability to receive and make calls, trigger public announcements, and delegate tasks, these applications facilitate seamless coordination among security personnel. As a result, teams are more responsive and cohesive.

If a security officer notices a broken window while on patrol, they can use their mobile security app to open an incident and notify the SOC. They may also access recent video footage of the area to determine if there might be an intruder nearby. As they investigate, they can upload photo or video evidence, and add any notes about their observations in the incident report.

Back at the SOC, their colleagues can work in parallel to assess the situation, relay any important information, and decide whether to escalate, call for backup, or simply submit a maintenance ticket to fix the window.

With input from the security officer on the ground as well as data from the system, the team can capture an end-to-end view of what happened. This is useful on many levels. They can see when the broken window was reported and when the repair was marked complete, so they can tell how long it took to get fixed. They can also share evidence of the damage with law enforcement or insurance adjusters if there’s a need.

Over time, the data they gather may reveal patterns such as an increase in the number of broken-window incidents or an uptick in vandalism in a particular area. Armed with this information, security managers can decide whether to install additional cameras or sensors, increase patrols, add lighting, or make other changes to try to address a recurring problem.

Real-time communication is so important to security officers that some teams have started turning to message apps and other unofficial tools. There can be security concerns with this. However, a bigger issue is the loss of visibility. When officers communicate through text message groups, none of that communication is recorded in the security solution. Unless they volunteer to share those messages, other team members may not know what happened and there’s no audit trail.

Keeping communication within a centralized system increases transparency and provides supervisors with more visibility into what happened and how officers responded. This can be useful to diagnose problems and find efficiencies. In case something goes wrong, having an audit trail through your security solution can demonstrate that officers took all possible and reasonable actions when responding to the crisis.

Streamlining Efforts Through Mobile Apps
Mobile apps aren’t only useful for responding to crime and safety events. They can also be leveraged to streamline operations. Opening doors, making and receiving calls, and monitoring sensors or systems are all features that can be just as useful in day-to-day operations.

For example, mobile applications can make it easier for personnel to investigate and log maintenance issues. Let’s say an operator at the SOC identifies an electrical incident at a train station. They assign a tech to take a look. That person can diagnose and report the problem from the field, and record what they did to repair or mitigate it using their mobile app.

The system logs the call, the requirement for maintenance, and a confirmation that the work was completed. The tech can move to the next item on their to-do list, without having to first return to the office to file a report. This saves time and resources so teams can operate more efficiently.

Coordination Through SOPs
When there’s an event or emergency, mobile security apps can also provide guidance to field officers with the help of digitized standard operating procedures (SOPs) that walk them through exactly what to do, who to notify, and when to escalate. These SOPs can include reminders of legal or regulatory requirements, or policy decisions that should guide officer actions.

The ability to receive guidance from SOPs and colleagues in the SOC is especially helpful during unusual or unforeseen events. Field officers gain better situational awareness and can respond with more confidence knowing they know the exact steps to take and have support from their team.

A Game-Changing Tool for Security Professionals
These days almost everyone has a smartphone, which makes the technology more accessible to all. There’s no longer a need to purchase separate hardware. Mobile apps can also augment or replace tools such as walkie-talkies, key cards, intercom stations, computer workstations, and more.

Mobile apps play a pivotal role in elevating the standards of physical security. As technology continues to evolve, embracing these applications becomes a strategic way of safeguarding assets, people, and information in an increasingly complex and interconnected world.

Mobile security apps empower officers in the field by providing them with the data that they need to make informed decisions in the moment. They also free team members from being stuck behind a desk all day.

Security operators can manage credentials on the go. They don’t need to be at their computer to make a simple change, like granting access to an office in a different city to an employee who is traveling. Intercoms, emergency call stations in parking lots, audiovisual doorbells, and other devices can also be managed from anywhere. You don’t need a dedicated person waiting to answer the phone or door. Officers can receive calls and grant or deny access from anywhere.

A Trend With Staying Power
People have come to expect to do much of what they do with a computer using their smartphone, and the security industry is following suit. The ability to monitor your access control, quickly handle incidents in real-time and stay informed of any suspicious activity all from the palm of your hand is key.

Mobile apps help bridge the communication gap between officers patrolling the field and their colleagues at the security desk. As a result, everyone has the tools and information to coordinate an effective and efficient response.

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