5 Best Practices for Using Real-time Location Services Technology

Security integrators can be instrumental in guiding end customers through a prickly transition period that leads to a successful RTLS implementation.

By Jana Rankin

Technology moves at the speed of light it seems, and the emergence of new and innovative software can sometimes overwhelm systems integrators looking to add value to their product lineup. Emerging technology that incorporates existing mobile technology is just now starting to make its way to the scene, bringing integrators to the table to provide end users with the guidance and training they need to make a smooth transition to using the technology in their own organizations.

Real-time location services (RTLS) software isn’t new by any means. If you’ve ever used your cell phone to check into a location on Facebook, then you’ve already used the technology. It’s automatically found in your smart devices, such as your mobile phone or tablet, and allows a signal to be broadcast via an Internet connection at your location.

Specifically with WiFi RTLS, tags are used that transmit a WiFi signal to multiple access points throughout the building — the “tags” being users’ mobile devices. This has emerged in the security industry as a means to track individuals — and objects if so desired — through a building or other contained area. Using existing mobile technology, operators can see who is within a given area on a map of a facility.

In the event of an active shooter situation, individuals within a specific area of the building can be notified directly through their mobile devices on next steps — whether to evacuate, take cover or follow other standard operating procedures that are put in place by an organization.

The Action Plan

Implementing this kind of technology, however, can be a challenge if this kind of emergency communication software has not been used before. This is where systems integrators can be instrumental in guiding organizations through the transition, offering the following best practices for a successful implementation.

  1. Establish a Team. The first and arguably most critical element of incorporating an emergency response technology solution is to establish a team to spearhead the implementation of the various components. Depending on the size of the organization, this can include a single individual or a group that is tasked with the remaining points on this list. This typically includes the person(s) in charge of security at the director level, a communications manager that can be forward facing to the general public, and an organization leader.
  2. Decide on a Technology. More than likely, this step will happen at the highest level, as security directors and organizational leaders have the most say in capital expenditures on security technology. But this decision should be made using the most up-to-date information that can be provided by systems integrators about how emergency response and asset protection technology works with existing systems, implementation steps and the typical pros and cons to implementing this kind of technology.
  3. Coordinate Emergency Response Plan. Now that a team is in place and a technology is chosen, it’s important that the team involved knows what to expect in the event of an incident. This involves a step-by-step plan that answers who will be contacted, how those involved will be informed of emerging news, how to incorporate first responder involvement, proper lockdown procedures, etc. Once this plan is established, the entire team should have a copy and regular drills involving staff should be executed.
  4. Establish Standard Operating Procedures. Part of a comprehensive emergency response plan, establishing standard operating procedures (SOPs) is critical. These procedures are put in place to guide operators and leaders with pre-determined next steps when an incident occurs. For example, SOPs should be in place for severe weather or active shooter responses, which will be different from each other. They should outline everything from how various stakeholders are informed about an emerging situation, to post-event response from an organization’s public relations team or executive leadership.
  5. Incorporate Emergency Notifications. Creating effective emergency notifications is critical to a plan’s success, as they set the stage for how particular audiences receive information about an emerging incident. Notifications via an RTLS system, for example, can be communicated through text, voice, or email, while automatic messages can simultaneously be deployed to first responders to keep them in the loop. Instructions on whether to lockdown, evacuate or shelter in place should be ready to go when needed, and should be short, clear and to the point.

While new and emerging technology, such as RTLS, can be intimidating at first, there is real possibility for systems integrators to add value for customers through the implementation of this kind of software. The first step to being successful in selling this kind of technology is becoming familiar with how the technology can be used to streamline response in an emergency and provide value for asset protection.

Jana Rankin is CEO of Austin, Texas-based VuTeur.

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