A new non-CCTV solution from a Goa, India-based company offers real-time insights on the performance of security guards.
A small factory in Hyderabad, one of the largest cities in central India, has four security guards. Although relatively very few for a factory, these guards were adequate to secure the site. But employing the guards is just the first step. For many customers like the management of this factory, there is no way to make sure that the guards are patrolling the site on time, not sleeping during their night shifts, not using someone else's ID card, etc. To deal with such concerns, these customers need a guard-monitoring solution.
In recent years, the arrival of video analytics, automated drones, and robots has helped end customers reduce the number of human guards. Even when guards are used, customized video analytic software can monitor their work. But such sophisticated systems work well for large sites
with several guards or customers with a lot of money to invest.
As much as we appreciate the cutting-edge developments at the forefront of security technology, the reality is that many customers either don't need such advanced systems or cannot afford them. It was with this realization that a Goa, India-based Spirogyra Software launched a Guard Tour System that works without using expensive surveillance cameras or outdated RFID systems.
"Protektor Guard Tour System is essentially an IoT and cloud solution that can monitor the performance of security guards patrolling your site in real-time," explained Gautam Rao, Founder, and Director at Spirogyra Software. "Protektor can validate the identity of a guard, ensure that they are awake during the hours of work, their movements especially for activities like patrolling, and ensure that they leave on time after work. It gives you the actual history of their activities in real-time."
How does it work?
Protektor works with their own devices that capture still images at regular, short intervals. Initially, these devices were based on Raspberry Pi with 3D-printed enclosures, but later, the company adopted Android, customizing smartphones to make them reporting devices and QR code scanners.
"We develop subsystems which create visibility because we understand that there would be certain areas in your plant or your complex that not really patrolled," Rao said. "You never know what's happening there. These could be long passages where there is not much movement, especially during the night. You don't know what is happening there. We also created these devices, which will give you pictures of those areas at a regular interval. For instance, every five or 10 minutes, you would get a picture from that region. This increases visibility. Guards also understand they are being monitored, which encourages them to comply with rules more."
What makes this solution interesting?
Most of the solutions available in the market for such purpose use technologies like RFID or NFC. But these cannot provide real-time updates. Customers must wait for the next day or a later time to download the data and inspect it. Real-time updates are essential for many customers who would rather take preventive action than search for forensic evidence after an incident.
"You can look at a dashboard and see what is actually happening in terms of where your guards are on the site," Rao continued. "The technologies we use for this include Bluetooth and devices with SIM cards that can connect to the cloud. We don't use the site's Wi-Fi, to avoid any chance of unwanted factors like malware entering the system."
"It's not rocket science, but it delivers."
Evidently, Spirogyra has focused its efforts on keeping the solution as simple as possible. Rao said they even considered integrating solutions like facial recognition
at some point but decided against it. In many sites, guards may frequently be shifted to different locations. Their attrition rate is also high. If using advanced systems like facial recognition, customers would have to configure the system as often as the guard changes while allowing the system itself some time to learn on its own.
The solution's simplicity would certainly appeal to customers who wouldn't wish to invest heavily in their security infrastructure but still want to monitor their guards. In Rao's own words, "it's not rocket science, but it delivers!"
But this doesn't mean that Protektor's customers are all small or mid-end. Some of the most prominent names in the market, like Siemens, use their solution at some of their premises. Protektor has also been trialed at large transport hubs like Bangalore Airport and companies like Tata Power. In the coming days, the company is planning to expand its offering to a guard attendance system as well.