Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
The question above translates as "Who will watch the watchman?" and provides part of the rationale for the existence of Guard Tour Verification Systems, which have existed since the mid-1800s. Detex came into being in 1923 as the Newman Watchclock Corporation, and its primary product was the "Newman" mechanical watchman's clock. Within a year it was renamed the Detex Watchclock Corporation; and it wasn't until 1964, after Detex entered the door hardware industry, that the company's name was shortened to Detex Corporation.
|1927 Newman Mechanical Watchclock
Generally speaking, a guard tour system is a combination of hardware and software that produces, as its end product, a report that documents the presence of security officers at specific locations at specific dates and times.
Any entity that uses or employs security officers is a potential customer for a guard tour system. Contract security firms need them to document the performance of their contracts with clients and to justify payment for their services. Business entities need them to protect against loss and liability, to ensure efficient operations, to maintain a safe work environment and to reduce insurance premiums. Guard tour systems are also useful for training new security officers and for improving their performance.
Electronic/Computerized Guard Tour
Electronic or computerized guard tour systems entered the U.S. market in 1986. Since then, the popularity of electronic systems soared and the demand for the older mechanical watchclocks steadily declined. As a result, Detex discontinued its mechanical watchclock product line at the end of 2011, but continues to offer two popular electronic guard tour systems.
So how do these systems work? First, a checkpoint is mounted at each location where a security officer is required to make an inspection; these checkpoints may be a stainless steel iButton, an RFID tag or a device containing a proprietary bar code. Second, the officer carries a handheld data collector that records the date and time and the location of each checkpoint as the officer visits that location. Finally, the tour data is transferred from the data collector to software on a computer; the software analyzes the tour data and produces a report of the officer's activities.
Real Time Guard Tour
In recent years, "real-time" guard tour systems have begun to capture a share of the market segment. With these systems, a mobile phone or other dedicated device records the checkpoint data and transfers it immediately back to a server; the end user can then log into a web portal and prepare and view the tour report and download or disseminate it to others. Where traditional electronic systems are usually a one-time purchase, real-time systems generally involve a monthly licensing fee for each data collection device activated in the system. Detex does not currently offer a real-time guard tour product.
It's worth mentioning that, while guard tour systems are designed and targeted to the security industry, they are easily and frequently adapted for use in other applications, such as maintenance or service, custodial activities or even time and attendance. Many end users of other Detex products have security officers, so keeping your eyes open and asking the right question can result in an opportunity for a sale.