The Rise and Sophistication of Mobile Apps in Physical Security Sector

Technology helps support security, safety and emergency management programs

Safety and security risks are everywhere including the office, schools, concerts, retail malls and hospitals. However, security professionals, who are tasked with protecting the public, can’t be everywhere at all times and they require timely information in order to prevent potential incidents. Security professionals are trained to know when a person, or group of people are acting suspicious. They see, hear and learn things every day that could help prevent a safety or security incident from happening. In fact, many incidents have early-warning predicators that are observable and these incidents can help be prevented with the right technology tools and techniques.

While well-trained security professionals will always remain the steadfast foundation of security programs, advancements in technology that are accessing easy-to-use apps can enhance their ability to gather intelligence and protect the facility. Blended personnel and technology solutions can create efficiencies, target security efforts and give security directors the power to make informed decisions that deliver even greater return on their security investment. From tour management systems and access control systems, to mobile reporting and facility-wide alert systems, technology helps support security, safety and emergency management programs in many ways.

Data collection. Tour management systems using mobile devices allow security officers to capture data in real time. Automated instructions and questions can be set up for security professionals to answer at each checkpoint, such as entrances, escalators and emergency callboxes. For example, a security professional on daily tours can be prompted monthly to document fire extinguishers’ inspection dates, essentially combining two tasks and providing additional value.

Streamlined reporting. Data obtained at checkpoints can be easily analyzed through simple reports to identify operational risks. These risks might include policy issues, such as specific doors repeatedly being left unlocked; safety issues, such as recurring hazards at specific elevators; or maintenance needs, such as inoperative callboxes.

Actionable information. Technology supports security strategy and enables optimized security officer deployments, precise post orders, directives for specific threats and countermeasure deployment to enhance security in areas where it is needed most. For example, incident management systems can identify sites and time ranges of incident volume based on historical data in the system. This can help determine security staffing levels and result in safer facilities and improved risk mitigation, reducing costs to the facility.

The walls between physical security and cyber security are coming down with worlds converging. Today’s security professional accesses high-performance apps from their mobile phone or tablet which enhance productivity, accountability and access to vital information. Consider a security warning about a predator on campus which is shared with a physical security team who are able to take action and ensure that a threat doesn’t become a tragedy. What about an access control system that registers an employee physically swiping access into their Washington, D.C. office while their cyber presence is being registered in Jacksonville,

Florida? Or telemetry collected from cameras which alerts to suspicious activity which empowers on-the-ground security professionals to take action? Security professionals are able to gather all this information via the newest and most efficient breed of mobile apps available.


Integrated solutions are going beyond the outdated “detect and respond” model of risk management to become an ecosystem that provides a comprehensive safety and security solution with artificial intelligence at its core. An integrated workforce ecosystem ensures reduced liability and enhanced reputation that amplifies the effectiveness of onsite security.

For example, HELIAUS® is able to transform data into actionable insights, and take the guesswork out of where the security team needs to proactively mitigate risk from incidents and improves response. This advanced artificial intelligence platform is designed to improve safety and reduce risk by enhancing onsite guarding services.

It’s not an either or between technology and people; it’s about arming security professionals to work with technology. Today’s work- flows task security professionals via text and email. AI systems interface with a company’s monitoring and response centers (MaRCs) in which remote video monitoring data and video analytics data are accessible from the portal and accessed via phone or tablet. These technologies can have data sources that include information from IoT sensors, drones, robots, along with cameras and other sources.

Our business ecosystems today include monitoring and response centers that provide an abundance of tools and technologies including threat intelligence platforms, remote video and alarm and event monitoring to traditional alarms and remote audio and positioning based patrol route management. Effective communication is critical to maximizing the efficiency and productivity of cutting-edge ecosystems to achieve optimum outcome that ensures enhanced safety and security.


For vital, time-sensitive messages, security professionals rely on mass notification apps which allow them to engage in real-time, one-way interactions with any number of people using a text alert voice message, email message, app push, digital signage and other customized channels system so that the message can be shared instantly.

Security professionals and the administrators are able to send notifications to thousands of people within seconds. They can initiate requests for help, reply to messages and actively monitor the well-being of their customers from their front-line perspective. Some respected mass notification apps include Everbridge, LiveSafe, Safe- Zone, AlertMedia, CallMy and ReGroup Mass Notification.

Why are mass notification apps “de rigueur” in our modern world?

Consider these scenarios. Several employees headed to the corporate center have disembarked from a commuter train and are walking through a transit center heading east to the parking structure where their cars are located. However, when they arrive at the ground lobby, their smartphone receives an automated text message alerting them that there was a chemical spill near the east side exit of the building. The text message guides them to an alternative and safer exit to avoid being near a contaminant.

Or perhaps a gunshot is heard on a college campus. All students and faculty receive a message about the location of that gunshot and whether they should shield in place or move to another, safer location.

Mass notification alerts could be used to protect people from any number of hazards and emergencies — a flash flood warning for people traveling near a suddenly dangerous roadway or a wildfire alert where flames could be creeping dangerously close to a road or housing community. These mass notification apps go beyond two-way communication to provide a full critical communications cycle that initiates an organization’s emergency response plan’s predefined crisis communication plan.

Many of the mass notification apps include the ability for students or employees who are working late to check in on their app to request a security escort to walk them to their car or dormitory.

The advent of COVID-19 pandemic presents an immediate need for security professionals and their communities to be able to instantly communicate with each other. For example, if an employee, student, teacher or contractor is found to be positive with the virus, the security professionals need to roll out an immediate containment plan.


In March 2020, LiveSafe Inc. announced a free, limited version of its safety and two-way communications app, as well as the platform’s Command and Communications Dashboard, available to any business, college, university or healthcare institution that needs a way for employees or students to anonymously communicate their concerns and receive important information about the COVID-19 outbreak.

The COVID-19 Safety Resources App enables members of an organization’s workforce or student body to engage in two-way communications with their COVID-19 coordination or response team. Rather than relying on email or emergency notification systems, the LiveSafe Platform offers a discreet way for organizations to engage their workforce and students during a time of limited resources and rapidly changing information.

“We are all in this together and we are stronger when we come together as communities to address critical safety, security and health concerns,” said Carolyn Parent, LiveSafe president and CEO. “In a dynamic environment like the COVID-19 situation, being able to provide accurate information, mitigate your employee’s concerns, and get inbound information about their status can be overwhelming to safety and security teams. LiveSafe enables two-way chat and broadcast, and offers needed anonymity so you can quickly identify who needs help and deliver accurate information to your workforce or student population.”


Using HELIAUS, a major Hollywood production studio was able to identify and address their workplace hazards with $657,000 in potential savings due to the improved reporting of slip-and-fall hazards. A perishable foods manufacturer saw over $55 million in potential losses avoided at a single site due to this AI platform.

A Texas hospital plagued with homeless entering the facility saw a 200 percent drop in security incidents with increased staff, visitor and patient satisfaction. A Washington DC landmark property realized $67,064 in savings from improvement to fire safety measures driven by this AI platform that directly reduced the risk of fire from ovens and heating elements accidentally being left on.

Today, the walls between manned guarding, staff and technology will come down leaving us with an ecosystem that allows ALL things to cooperate at light speed which ensures that we’re considering everything we need to consider, and bringing all these resources to bear in a way that drives better outcomes.

This article originally appeared in the September 2020 issue of Security Today.


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