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Changes to business continuity systems could make waves in the security industry, according to Natalie Cooper, Commercial Manager at Vocal.

According to one major player in the security industry, around 90pc of its 620,000 strong workforce is employed in front-line positions. This means that at any moment, a single firm could have hundreds of thousands of staff members in the field, all of whom should be within the communicative reach of head office.

Co-ordinating the processes of individual clients, ensuring the safety of your team, and engaging everyone in an incident response are important tasks for firms of any size. By necessity, the private security industry is one of the most mindful, up-to-the-minute, and responsible sectors in the UK. Surprisingly, however, many security companies are still reliant on paper-based filing, manual record keeping, and traditional methods of communication. Overall, it is widely accepted that the systems used could be much more efficient.

Trevor Wheatley-Perry, of global incident management product firm Vocal Ltd, says: “For the clients of a large proportion of security firms, business as usual is paper-based, and incident management is a folder which sits on a shelf. That’s not good enough when you find yourself in the middle of a business-affecting incident, where communications have to be as clear and efficient as possible. Having your business continuity plans at your fingertips, and a comprehensive communication tool at your disposal, is vital if you don’t want to lose track of the safety of your employees.”

The industry’s reliance on elemental systems is particularly surprising when we consider that solutions have emerged which create automated, paper-free audit trails, track employees and ensure their safety through their own smartphones, and store countless pre-formulated workflows and procedures ready for dispensation in any incident.
One manned guarding and security services company decided to finally make a change in 2013. Being responsible for more than 300 clients throughout the UK, and fielding 7000 support calls every week from a dedicated national communications centre in London, First Security (part of Interserve) couldn’t simply rely on paper and crossed fingers.

Instead, they developed a partnership with Vocal Ltd, responsible for developing the software used by the Cross-Sector Safety and Security Communications Partnership to create the communications infrastructure for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Together, they created a solution tailored to the company’s needs, and most importantly to the needs of their clients.

This takes the form of a new software product with the potential to revolutionise the security industry’s management of business-affecting incidents. Security Command (already shortlisted for the Innovation of the Year at the BCI North America Awards), is a bespoke system designed to fit First Security’s needs, which offers control room staff the ability to oversee hundreds of clients at once, recover their individual processes, and send out mass communications at the touch of a button during an incident, all under the watch of an automatically recorded audit trail.

“First Security has always been ahead of its competition in terms of strategic, future-focussed planning and solutions,” says Trevor Wheatley-Perry. “However, even they were surprised by just how far they could go with their initial idea. It seems that many companies who offer outstanding security provision are not aware of the capabilities of the latest business continuity systems, or the ways in which these systems might enhance their service offering.”

And First Security’s Regional Director Aimee Regan says: “When we first engaged in discussions, we were looking to develop an intuitive incident management tool that would focus on escalation and move away from paper-based operations. Improving the consistency of our incident management was our principal aim, alongside creating a unique and resilient tool that would automate processes and offer real value to our clients.

“Vocal quickly helped us to realise that these aims could be stretched to cover much wider and more interesting options for business continuity, and to see that we could take our initial plans much further than we thought.”

Trevor adds: “We found First Security’s innovative approach to be extremely useful when we sat down to develop our collaborative solution, as we were really able to push the boundaries of what the security industry considers itself able to achieve in terms of incident response systems.”

Security Command is one of the first of a new breed of business continuity systems to be used in the security industry. However, it is the software’s operational simplicity which makes its creators believe that it can provide a blueprint upon which the industry as a whole can build and implement new standards.

By nature, Vocal’s intuitive design takes control during an incident and provides direction and communications according to pre-planned processes. Whether the incident takes place on the company’s own premises, or on a client’s where their staff are operating, the specified processes can be accessed on the system rather than physically hunted down, and instructions can be communicated across organisations within seconds. Those in the control room then have real-time confirmations that those communications have been delivered and actioned, while maintaining a view of the developing situation, and automatically creating an audit trail of decisions and actions.

Tim Dunning, Consultant Analyst at First Security adds: “We quickly realised that implementing Security Command forces you to review your processes and that’s when you want to find faults – not in the middle of a major incident. One of the most basic elements of the system is that it removes the risk of human error or panic; it simply manages everything for you in line with your pre-defined planning and processes. We wanted to be a leader and set the standard in automating processes and sustainability, and Security Command can help us to achieve that.”

And Trevor adds: “From a control room point of view the solution Vocal helped First Security to create is groundbreaking. It’s a complete, systematic overhaul and marks a huge departure from traditional, paper-based methods. As an industry leader like First Security has found so much success and improved efficiency from implementing a product like this, it seems that a systematic revolution is not far off for the security industry.”



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