On the Fast Track

Latest tracking solutions save time and money

An organization suspects that an employee is not following his or her route. In the past, a security manager would personally follow the employee or instruct someone to do so. This tactic is time consuming, especially if, on that particular day, the employee actually goes where he’s supposed to go. But with the help of advanced location technology, the security manager doesn’t need to leave the office and can monitor the employee’s route each day conveniently from his desk.

On the computer or mobile phone, a security manager can detect every stop, including frequency and length of standstill. The manager can be alerted every time the property is on the move or is leaving a certain area. This geo-fencing concept uses predefinable virtual perimeters through GPS. It also detects the exact location of the subject or goods—not just a general proximity. A security manager can log on 24/7 and see where the vehicle or property is in real time.

The Value of GPS
Private investigator Tony Cox has been hired by corporations in many instances just like this to track employees and make sure equipment is going where it’s supposed to go. GPS is invaluable to him, no matter where he goes, because it provides precise locations.

“I was hesitant to start using it because I doubted its accuracy,” said Cox, who has been an investigator in Memphis, Tenn., for 14 years. “But after trying it, GPS gets you 20 to 30 meters close to an address and you don’t have to be there 24/7. It allows you to manage your time more effectively.”

Security managers can hire an outside investigator or do it themselves. With an investigator, the benefit is having a trained professional tracking in a subject area that may be difficult for others. Security managers who choose to investigate themselves may face a more time-consuming process, but they do know their company best. Either way, before using GPS tracking, filter out employees and discover the depth of the problem. This will take time and may require audio or video surveillance.

The next step is to start monitoring employees. Watch to determine when the employee is moving the merchandise, whether it’s at night or during the day. Record the pattern and analyze the routine being established. What neighborhood is he frequenting? Where is he meeting sources? A GPS tracking device will tell you all of this, as well as if another person is involved. Real-time tracking by GPS makes discovering these answers smooth and easy. It saves time and money on what could have been substantial property loss.

A Growing Market
Tracking and location technology is used for a variety of purposes—not only for security. Location solutions have been used in drug tracking, as well as matrimonial, family and personal tracking. The idea of tracking is not new. In judicial circumstances, it can be used to monitor parents or track behavior patterns of criminal offenders.

Tracking technology has been available since 1974, but many security professionals have just turned to location solutions within the last year. Technological complexities, distrust of reliability and simple fear of change have hindered early adoption. As more organizations are cutting costs, for example, in the personal navigation market, and with the rise of consumer-friendly services, other people are starting to notice.

Going it Alone
Getting started takes practice, especially if you choose to do it on your own. It’s important to test the tracking device and the service first. If you are using it in a vehicle, practice in case you have to covertly place the device. One of the places people find successful is attaching the device to the exterior bumper of the vehicle.

Also, depending on the device, it’s important to know that there are some places a tracker won’t work, such as in an underground parking garage. However, location technology is changing so fast that sometimes it’s hard to keep up. Some solutions are ultra-sensitive and work in situations where other devices fail, such as urban canyons, heavy foliage, under car seats, in the glove box and even in some indoor environments. Furthermore, this technology can be found in a device as small as a matchbox, which easily can go unnoticed.

With the technology constantly changing, some wonder whether GPS is a fad or is here to stay. It has changed the way Cox does his job. He is able to take on more cases and save money. For security managers, it also is cost effective, and ease-of-use makes it more beneficial. But the laws and regulations vary by state. In Virginia, for example there is a ‘tampering with auto law, which says a vehicle cannot be altered to be inoperable. Since location devices don’t alter the state of the vehicle, there are some jurisdictions that let it slide. But certain counties in Virginia are much stricter and look at the use of GPS as tampering, making its use a crime. The commonwealth’s attorney makes those decisions. Be sure to know your state’s regulation before using GPS.

As more people are becoming aware, evolution is a certainty. Location tracking is growing and becoming more useful than ever it has. Knowing an exact location solves cases quickly and provides an instant peace of mind that might take weeks to reach otherwise. GPS has changed the way we monitor employees and made it easy and discreet. And it delivers results—something all security managers need.

This article originally appeared in the June 2008 issue of Security Today.

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