Security is a top priority for condo owners. A credible study on why people are drawn to condo living found that Canadians don’t mind paying for the perks that come with living in a condo, but they do expect good building security in return. Security was more important to them than having a balcony, a parking space or being close to public transit.
Most condo communities have some form of security in place. Security personnel play a very important role in keeping people safe. Strategic patrol routes are equally important. The best security teams have designated routes in place to amplify safety for the building that they protect.
Read on for tips on how to create and improve patrol routes for your security team.
Define your security goals
Whether you’re designing a new tour plan or updating an existing one, you should start by defining your security goals. Every condo building has unique security needs and unique risks that must be taken into account.
Do you want your guards to discourage intruders? Do they need to monitor public spaces for accidents or other liabilities? Or, are they looking out for boilers and other equipment to make sure they are still functioning safely?
The purpose of a patrol can change monthly, weekly or even within the same day. If your team is responsible for multiple issues, this needs to be clearly communicated to them.
Design routes that align with your security goals
Once you’ve identified your security goals, you can plan out your patrol routes. You want to design routes that will bring guards to the spaces and areas that need frequent attention. For example, if you’ve had a recent issue with car break-ins, you would want to design routes that pass through all levels of a parking garage. Or, if you don’t have any cameras in your stairwells, you’ll want to ensure those spaces are patrolled by security regularly. You may need to create multiple routes to meet all of your goals, especially if you’re caring for a large building. The layout of your building must be taken into careful consideration when creating plans, both to inform your guards’ patrol routes, and accommodate any camera coverage.
While cameras can be helpful security tools, they must be set up correctly to be truly effective. Some security cameras systems only capture one angle, while others are not incredibly reliable when it gets dark outside.
Consider a security checkpoint system
One excellent way to help your security team stay on top of routes is to introduce a security checkpoint system or guard tour patrol system to your building. Patrol systems help security managers and officers execute more efficient and organized patrols.
It doesn’t cost much to implement a security checkpoint system. Security or property managers can easily install affordable proximity microchips which will act as checkpoints along a designated route. The physical checkpoints could be NFC tags or magnetic strips.
Patrol Points, a cloud-based guard tour system, lets security register discreet NFC tags using a mobile phone app. Once the checkpoints have been logged, security can scan the checkpoints using an iPhone or Android. Patrol Points does not come with any complicated or bulky hardware; security staff only need to have the mobile app on their phone to complete patrols. Patrol Points even tells security where the next checkpoint is, and allows staff to add notes or attach pictures to each checkpoint. Most property managers appreciate photos as they can provide a lot of information instantaneously.
The majority of patrol systems enable security managers to customize and change patrol routes, meaning checkpoints can be reorganized to create new routes in minutes. Changing up patrol routes on a regular basis is highly recommended as it prevents potential trespassers from becoming familiar with your security team’s routes.
Schedule routes in advance
Some tour systems allow you to schedule patrols in advance. Guards can view the routes before their shift, and even bring up issues or concerns if they think something needs to be added or changed. Keeping your team involved in security planning and strategy can help ensure success.
You can plan for how long a scheduled patrol should last, and make adjustments if routes are taking too long, or aren’t thorough enough.
Assign specific tasks for designated routes
The guard should make a list of activities that need to be done while on a specific patrol and study the route in advance, including a map of the major checkpoints, passageways, stairwells, doors and windows, etc. Alternate routes should be planned just in case specific areas are made inaccessible due to an emergency such as a fire, explosion, or leak.
If other duties, such as alarm inspections, have been assigned to the guard on patrol, make sure you’ve scheduled sufficient time for them to complete those tasks in addition to their normal patrol duties. Adding inspection tasks without increasing patrol time creates a situation where your guards may feel pressure to cut corners or rush through the patrol.
Using Patrol Points, management can leave notes at certain checkpoints for security officers as they conduct a patrol. If the guard cannot complete a task, there is a space for them to include an explanation.
Empower your guards
It’s critical that your guards have the training and information they need to conduct strategic patrols. After all, they are the ones who will be responsible for resolving any immediate issues that occur in or around the building. Thorough knowledge of the geography of the building, and the routes to be patrolled, is essential. The security guard should know in advance exactly where any phones, water shut-off valves, electrical and alarm panels, and light switches are located. They should also know if emergency lighting is installed in the areas that they’ll be patrolling, and where emergency equipment, such as back-up generators, first aid kits and extinguishers, are located. If something does go wrong, guards should know the best route to take to get them out of harm’s way as quickly as possible.
Make use of data
Every patrol route can offer valuable information.
A security checkpoint system gives you on-demand access to your property’s security trends. This means you could look back and analyze the effectiveness of your security measures based on logged incidents and patrol data. You can use this data to improve your security system and implement changes, like protocol updates, as needed.
A security checkpoint system also generates reports for each security guard. This helps to improve the level of accountability, productivity, and reliability of your security guards. Numbers don’t tell all of the story, but they do provide very useful insights.
Strategic patrol routes are part of a good security plan. If guards know exactly what they have been tasked to achieve, if they can identify issues and solve problems quickly, and if they know the ins and outs of the building, then they are in a good position to provide strong protection to residents.
Security managers shouldn’t prescribe the same security standard to drastically different condos. Cookie-cutter solutions have limited utility, and every condo will have its own unique security needs. What works for a relatively small condo located in a quiet residential area may be unsuitable for a condo sharing a sidewalk with other businesses and buildings. Details make the difference.