Hotel News ME asks security professionals to elaborate on the latest technological advancements available to the hospitality industry and the necessary precautions hotels should take to ensure the safeguarding of the property.
In the eventuality of a crisis, how should hotels approach their planning strategy?
Currie: Planning for any crisis or major incident is a vitally important component for any hospitality setting. This should include a full series of standard operating procedures (SOPs) that are aligned to a contingency plan and escalation procedures. A central control point should also be considered and this could be the properties CCTV control room for example. An emergency response plan (ERP) should also be produced.
In all cases it is imperative that these processes and procedures are also practiced and rehearsed so that all involved in incident planning are fully aware of their duties and responsibilities. Liaison and close links with the local emergency services must also be initiated and maintained.
Tazey: Having an effective crisis management plan for a hotel is imperative. Nominated personnel need to understand and execute the crisis management plan proficiently so as to ensure the safety of employees, hotel guests and the security of the facility whilst maintaining a level of business continuity.
Civil disturbance, hostage situations, natural disasters and terrorist activities are but a few scenarios that can be classified as crisis situations and an effective crisis management plan must address each situation appropriately.
Integrated electronic security systems are a pivotal part of any hotels prevention and response to crisis situations. Public address and digital signage systems notify staff and guests of a threat, access control systems allow or deny access to areas of the hotel and the surveillance system provides gives operators the ability to see events unfold either live or via recorded footage.
Ensuring all indoor and outdoor areas of the hotel are covered whilst being as un-obtrusive as possible is a challenge that hotels are faced with. At Arecont Vision we’ve developed products and technology that help hotel security directors address this challenge.
Biju: We believe that the most important part of a strategy should be to able to record and report incidents in order to have a comprehensive understanding of all incidents taking place and work on preventative measures. Programs such as Invotech security systems create incident reports and use security logs to record and report offices dispatched to the location of the incident, as well as the incident details. This creates a full tracking circle.
Narang: Hotels usually have set procedures and guidelines from their HQ on how to handle all known crises, from a fire to a terrorist threat, a focal point should also be to test staff without a crisis to see how well they cope and coordinate and that procedures are followed correctly.
Simon Currie, director, Transguard Security Services
What are the top pointers to ensure that a hotel is secure against a crisis or a threat?
Tazey: Whether we’re talking about a small private boutique hotel or a mammoth five star resort, hotel security is paramount. It’s important that all staff and not just security personnel are trained in the importance of security and what they should look out for or do in the event of a crisis or threat. By combining staff training with specialized security personnel and physical security systems, hotels can develop effective integrated security programmes that will protect the people within and the facility. A key part of the physical security layer is video surveillance.
Biju: Technology has come a long way in helping hotels to upgrade basic security measures. Providing an accommodating atmosphere that doesn’t compromise safety is the biggest challenge that hotels face. Using discrete technology such as a patrol manager to record and report on the areas and times that security patrols were last performed on the premises are small steps a property can take to ensure added security. In addition streamlining procedures for guest logs, lost and found and key tracking makes it easier for staff and the management.
Currie: All hotel groups consider guest comfort and security as priorities, particularly when faced with today’s global security challenges. The following should always be considered as proactive security programs, which must become an integral part of all hotels’ operations. Well-trained staff that are responsible and accountable for the security and well being of guests and visitors. The use of advanced security technologies aligned with physical security measures to facilitate comprehensive security protocols, such as; integrated surveillance systems, advanced lock and access control systems and sophisticated asset protection tools. Rigorous security and safety site specific documentation assessments and reviews, dedicated fire, life, safety systems and monitoring plus comprehensive emergency response plans along with regular staff training reviews.
Narang: For us at VingCard, we are in the business of access control to maintain levels of security for guest rooms and at the back of house services. The latest technology that we offer is our wired, or wireless online solutions that can be
Integrated with various other hotel management systems and software, offering intelligent and efficient solutions.
What are some of the latest technologies available on the market for the hospitality industry, and what new advancements do you expect to see in the near future?
Currie: There are a number of potential risks that can affect the hospitality industry including, terrorism and extremism, environmental catastrophes, fire, robbery, burglary and spying (industrial espionage), theft and vandalism. These risks need to be identified and controlled through the use of physical and technological based security solutions. Identifying and assessing risks and then implementing adequate measures and controls to counter these risks. This may be outsourced to professional agencies, intrusion detection both active and passive with the use of mechanical protection equipment with electronic alarm systems. Access controls through access authorisation using flexible and adaptable authentication of individuals with the ability to configure access rights both geographically and chronologically. Systems should also be integrated to other property systems such as the building management systems (BMS). Video surveillance has a proven to be a key element of any modern security system acting both as a deterrent and a valuable asset in post-event analysis and in sophisticated security concepts video systems provide the visual basis for decisions and play an essential role through real-time monitoring of critical areas and identification of personnel as well as the detection of dangers and risks, biometric systems including facial recognition and central control rooms with the ability to use, monitor and control all systems.
Tazey: In terms of video surveillance, there has been a drastic improvement in available technology over the last 5 years. Analogue video surveillance systems were the norm in the early to mid 2000’s then the advantages of IP video moved the industry into the digital space. Today, we’re seeing a further migration to HD and multi megapixel resolution surveillance systems driven by the users need to capture more detail. The biggest advantage of megapixel resolution surveillance systems is the fantastic return on investment they provide. Implementing a surveillance system around megapixel technology actually reduces the number of cameras needed to effectively monitor a facility without compromising on image detail. Reducing the number of cameras in a surveillance system requires less supporting infrastructure and installation time which all lead to lower total cost of ownership for the user.
We at Arecont Vision continue to lead the way in megapixel surveillance technology with new innovative, industry first products that deliver multi megapixel video and a lower total cost of ownership to our customers. Our SurroundVideo Omni series product is a perfect example. Delivering revolutionary flexibility, our SurroundVideo® Omni multi-sensor multi-megapixel cameras provide ample resolution to zoom-in for details in live and recorded video. As in our industry leading SurroundVideo series, we’ve maintained our four image sensor set up and integrated the four imagers, each with a choice of IR corrected lens, into an IP66 rated / IK-10 impact resistant dome housing. A unique track design allows the four individual sensor gimbals to be independently placed in nearly any configuration including hallway intersections, lobby’s or in a 270-degree view at the corner of a building, replacing the traditional pan, tilt zoom camera.
Biju: Digitalising procedures that were previously manual to ensure better tracking and reporting is the need of the hour. The latest technologies include security route tracking using RFIDs, also tracking important assets like keys and lockers. Systems that can track lost and found items, visitor logs and incident reports are revolutionising the hospitality industry. The InvoTech Security System manages all security responsibilities from one system, which centralizes the management tools and information.
What are the current trends being seen in the Middle East regarding the security within a hotel?
Currie: Within the UAE the security industry is regulated by the police and in Dubai this is covered under Federal Law 24 through the Department of Protective Systems (DPS). In Abu Dhabi and all Other Emirates it is covered under Federal Law 37 through The Private Security Business Department (PSBD). Both agencies have issued a number of directives and mandates relating to security. All agencies are required by Law to ensure they remain compliant to these regulations. The main factors that affect hotels have been the requirement to install cameras in every corridor and reception. Enhanced and specific security training courses have also been introduced for any staff deployed in a hospitality setting.
Biju: Trends that are being seen in the Middle East are those of digital technology to track and report procedures that were previously done manually. In addition, using discreet products to help security such as RFID tags to time stamp and track the route taken by security guards. Hotels are moving towards making life easier by installing programs such as Invotech Security System. Efficiency and simplicity are main reason systems like this are being implemented.
Tazey: The Middle East has some of the finest hotels in the world and we at Arecont Vision can boast to having some of them as customers. For these hotels, the security of their guest and staff is critical and we see them as early adopters of the latest surveillance technology. HD (1080p) resolution is now a common demand and we’re starting to see 3, 5, 8, 12 and 20 megapixel technology being employed. Capturing video at these resolutions provides greater image detail for digital zooming which helps hotels meet both their legal and operational requirements whilst future proofing their investment.
Video content analytics (VCA) use within hotels is also on the rise. Video content analytics allow users to better manage their video, leading to time savings and increased operational efficiency.
Narang: Hotels are now following a high standard of security when it comes to the mechanical and electronic hardware being used as well as software solutions with high security, so as technology advances so does the ways in which the sector utilises these advancements.
How should management teams train their staff in terms of security?
Tazey: In conjunction with the hotel surveillance system, staff are the eyes and ears on the ground. Staff response to any crisis or unusual behavior should be consistent and professional hence ongoing security training is vital. Before any training occurs, security directors should understand what their staff are currently doing or not doing in relation to safety and security. They should then lay out a clear end goal and identify the key steps needed to achieve their goals.
Currie: Extensive training modules on security management and supervisory skills should be produced and delivered. Security managers should obtain any local or regional mandatory security qualification and licensing. They should also aspire to gain certified security professional accreditation.
Investment in additional training for all security guards should also be delivered including English language training, customer service training, conflict resolution training and importantly externally certified first aid and fire marshal training as a minimum.
Biju: Hotel security is only as good as the level of training given to staff, who serve as management’s eyes and ears. Training should be an ongoing enterprise, with the aim of ensuring a consistent, professional response to all emergencies. Management should empower staff to take responsibility in addressing unusual behavior that occurs on hotel property, without jeopardising their own safety.
What elements of hotel security should be outsourced and why?
Currie: There are many elements of a security function that a hotel may decide to outsource. These can include the following, security guards and control room CCTV staff, which may be a cheaper option for respective properties. Consultancy services may be outsourced to gather professional advice and guidance on all hotel security needs, risks, assessments, protocols and procedures. This may be required where a chief security professional is not directly employed. Concierge staff again for financial and commercial reasons, car park management as this is a specific function that should be carried out by professional agencies delivering these services and door-staff for hotel bars and nightclubs.
Tazey: Like many things, outsourcing hotel security has its pros and cons. On the one hand, it’s more cost effective option whether it be manned security or SAAS, whereas keeping security in house provides more value for money, flexibility and better quality control. It’s important to strike the right balance between security personnel overheads and the security requirement and this is where outsourcing adds value. Hotels that host large events can outsource security to work in conjunction with their existing staff specifically for that function and even assign the cost to the specific project P&L.
Biju: All security related activity needs to be tracked, such as keys and security equipment, officer dispatch activity, visitors on property, security patrols, security incidents, lost & found items, staff locker assignments, and more, which can be done with Invotech Security Systems.