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All along the watchtour.


THE RECENT INTRODUCTION OF electronic watchtour systems to the security industry poses exciting new choices for security managers. Mechanical systems, time-proven and economical, continue to be a fine solution to watchtour supervision needs at some facilities. Yet, other facilities may benefit from the computerized efficiency and information processing capabilities of electronic systems.

Confronted with new system alternatives, a security manager may ask: When is it advisable to install or retain a program of mechanical watchclocks? And, under what circumstances should electronic systems be considered?

For the basic verification of a security guard's rounds, the mechanical watchclock is still one of the most dependable, simple-to-use, and cost-effective supervision devices. The watchclock allows managers, supervisors, and building owners to determine at a glance whether a guard has made his or her rounds on time and in the right sequence.

Basic watchclock systems consist of the watchclock, which contains a time-synchronized tape or dial, and the watchclock recording keys. The keys are strategically located at stations throughout a facility or complex, with each key bearing a unique number. The proper placement of key stations along the route enables a guard to make a patrol tour of the building without having to backtrack, providing the maximum coverage needed in a minimum amount of time.

In the case of a portable system, a guard carries the watchclock on his or her rounds, clocking in at each station by inserting the station's key into the watchclock and turning it. This motion embosses the number of the key on the watchclock's integral tape or dial.

The embossed tape or dial provides a readily readable, unalterable record of a guard's tour for management inspection. Skipped stations are easily spotted as gaps on the tape or dial. A manager can also tell if there was a delay during the tour, if the station was visited out of sequence, or if the guard rushed through his or her rounds.

This type of system is well suited to smaller facilities requiring up to 40 stations. Users have long reported satisfaction with the system, citing simplicity, reliability, and product durability. Records are easily analyzed and cannot be falsified since standard systems have built-in tamper indicators such as detector pins, which penetrate the tape or dial each time the watchclock is opened.

Ordinarily, the mark of the detector pin should appear on the time line only when a supervisor has opened the clock to check or reload the tape or dial; unidentifiable marks are evidence of tampering. The overall level of security provided by these systems has earned Factory Mutual approval and a UL listing for some manufacturers, which translates into insurance premium discounts for users.

Portable watchclocks afford the convenience of tour record examination without supervisory visits to each station. Features users should look for in portable systems include a die-cast aluminum casing for ruggedness and a shock-resistant spring-wound, 11-jewel movement. A heat-treated glass crystal covering the clock face and a harness-leather carrying pouch are other features that managers and guards will value in the event the clock is dropped.

Different kinds of portable system key recording stations are available for different kinds of facilities. Watchtour managers at indoor factories or offices, for example, might consider surface-mounted units with lift-up covers for easy access. For schools and institutions, units are available with cover locks as tamper deterrents. Most institutional buildings would benefit from the cost savings associated with surface-mounted rather than flush-mounted units. Yet banks, hotels, and apartment buildings often prefer the neat, dignified appearance of flush-mounted key stations, which reveal only the smooth finish of a satin aluminum faceplate. The box itself is recessed in the wall, and the key may be accessed via a snap cover or cover-lock faceplate.

Many systems require tape or dial changes every 24 hours, but managers who desire a system that will record a guard's patrol activities over several days without interruption will appreciate 96-hour watchclocks. These tape-style, portable clocks allow security coverage over long weekends, holidays, and plant closings without requiring daily supervisory clock inspections. Savings are realized in the reduction of supervisory overtime.

Seven-day stationary units are also available. In stationary systems, the clocks are housed in units permanently mounted at points to be visited by the guard. Generally, two keys control stationary systems--one carried by the guard, who inserts and turns the key at each station once he or she has patrolled the area, the other kept by the supervisor for inspecting the clock and replacing the seven-day dial.

WHEN MIGHT A STATIONARY mechanical watchtour system be more appropriate than traditional portable watchclocks? Often, stationary units are applied when a contract security service supplies an outside nightwatch service to several businesses, with each proprietor requiring a separate confirming record of surveillance.

They are also effective when strategic points must be visited more than once during a regular tour, such as detention centers where a prisoner must be checked on every 20 minutes, or where a plant manager might need to record inspections of gauges and special controls. Stationary units can be surface- or flush-mounted.

In cases where an established program of mechanical watchclocks requires new watchclocks or needs expanding, it is often more sensible and economical to continue with mechanical systems. Replacement watchclocks can use existing key stations, and even the addition of several new watchclocks and key stations may cost less than changing over to a new type of system. Further, if supervisory needs don't extend beyond typical tour patrol confirmation, the additional features of an electronic system may not justify the added cost.

When a planned expansion or installation involves a large number of stations (50 or more) over an extensive complex or high-rise building, the data collection function demands speedier and more selective processing. Under these conditions an electronic system may be the next logical step.

A computer-based electronic watchtour system has many times the station monitoring capacity of a mechanical watchclock, allowing extended tour range and routing flexibility. Systems with retention capacities of 99 different tour locations--or as many as 6,400 stops--are available. These versatile systems are ideal for security management programs requiring such functions as planning efficient tour routes, providing alternative routes, detecting inconsistencies in tour patterns, and producing security reports in spreadsheet format. Time-saving reporting capability is also offered by electronic systems. Exception reports, for example, save time by indicating only where a guard did not execute his or her assigned duty.

Tour information can be quickly and precisely collected, stored, and processed with an electronic system. If the data is stored on a floppy disk or the hard drive of a computer, it can be retrieved easily for future needs. Some systems can print data through a PC-compatible link; others offer a printer as part of a complete package.

In electronic systems, a guard carries a hand-held, battery-operated tour recorder. When the guard touches the recorder to tour stations mounted along the route, the date, time, and station number are registered automatically into the recorder's memory.

Since the tour recorders are completely sealed and use no tapes or dials, they are inherently tamper-resistant. Tour stations, too, are sealed to prevent tampering. Since stations have no batteries or wiring, they cannot be disarmed by intruders, and they require no maintenance.

Tour data is commonly transferred from the tour recorder to a data transfer unit by the supervisor. It is from this unit that a supervisor may choose to store, print, or download data. Data transfer units can also check the status of any recorder, update a recorder's time and date, clear a recorder's memory, and diagnose all memory functions. Commands are typically given through a keypad on the unit and prompted by a liquid crystal display.

Some data transfer units offer an optional automobile AC adapter for taking units into the field, allowing remote site collection. The adapter permits supervisors to collect tour reports on the spot.

Whatever the needs of today's watchtour manager, more options are available now than ever before for effective tour monitoring. The range of the area to be patrolled and the degree of flexibility necessitated by a facility's layout are important factors in determining which type of system to select. The optimum application will use all system features to their fullest to produce a smoothly managed, efficient, and cost-effective perimeter protection program.
COPYRIGHT 1989 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:perimeter protection
Author:Kaufman, Ernie
Publication:Security Management
Date:Jun 1, 1989
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