Accessing the Internet to gather information continues to grow rapidly. People now expect everything to be connected, from their real-time public transport schedule, to the voting system, to stock availability in physical world stores.
More than than 4.3 billion people around the world are using the internet. Well over half of the world’s population is now online, with the latest data showing that more than 360 million new users came online for the first time in 2018 – that’s nearly 1 million per day!
In Australia we are ahead of the game when it comes to adopting Internet technology. App downloads alone totaled 749 million in 2018, with a $1.2 billion value.
There now seems to be an App for everything, or an upgrade to an App that aims to improve our life in one way or another. In fact, there is even an App to organise your Apps! On the surface, many Apps seem similar and often they sprout the same information, capabilities and interfaces but rarely do they end up delivering the same results.
Having run a small to medium security business for two decades I am always open to advancements to assist in running the business smarter, and adding value to our clients. I often find myself reading up on the latest App releases and in several instances would be lost without my favourites for both business and personal use.
Now, I’d like to share my favourites with you – from the perspective of a security service provider. I have not been paid or sponsored to share these details with you, but in return I hope you may also be able to share with me with a couple of your own favourite Apps.
Risk Assessor Pro: I’m generally not a fan of a simple “tick and flick” risk assessment form but there are often occasions involving ad hoc work at new sites on short notice that require quick and easy on the spot risk assessments.
This App allows that assessment to be done and put into a professional looking report within about 10 minutes. The report can then be sent via email to supervisors for approval and then forwarded to clients.
While this app is by no means “god’s gift” to risk assessments – it’s an invaluable tool that creates the basis of a report which can be ‘scaled’ up at a later date. Using the data that I have entered, I can go back later and complete an in-depth, risk assessment, which is custom tailored to the site.
Wunderlist: While there are many task management Apps out there, the reason I decided to choose Wunderlist is its pure simpleness where anyone can pick it up and use it effectively from the start.
Wunderlist is an easy yet effective task management App for those who want to get things done on time, every time. It’s built with a straightforward interface; the options and menus are easy to spot and are laid out clearly.
Assign tasks, set deadlines, update duties and displaying your schedule are just some of the things you can do with this simple yet powerful tool. I’ve been using this App for several years and simply can’t imagine trying to stay on top of everything without it.
Evernote: Allows you to take notes at meetings, pictures on walk-throughs, and quickly record the address of that property with the sloppy security guard you saw – all whilst keeping everything searchable. It will then synchronise the information across all your mobile devices and computers.
This intuitive App allows your notes to be written or typed, dictated and recorded as audio or attached as pictures. Pretty much any information you need to keep track of can be tracked with Evernote.
For you, the security operative on the job, it can be used to take notes for an incident complete with photos, audio and copies of third-party incident reports then share them in real time with the management team or any other party of interest.
For those worried about storing sensitive information, Evernote has state of the art encryption technology which is currently being used by tech heavyweights Google. They also offer two-step authentication as a log in feature which I believe is an absolute must have for anyone who takes their online security seriously.
Calm: With high levels of stress caused by over working and not allowing yourself to switch off, I’ve found it necessary to incorporate a mental health/meditation App. Calm is best described as a consciousness altering App which I often use when all of the tasks start to pile up and appear overwhelming. Instead of stressing out and doing a half assed job on each task, I’ll take 10 minutes to open up Calm and reset my mind.
A quick break to sit back and take stock of perception versus reality is often all it takes to change your outlook on the day ahead and does wonders for productivity levels. Calm has an endless supply of guided meditations to help you through an extremely diverse range of feelings including anxiety, fear, anger, helplessness and many more.
Even though I have done my best to only include Apps which are free or low cost, the $60 per year spent on this App is barely a drop in the ocean when compared to its immediate and long-term benefits. A few of my employees swear by it when it comes to assisting them with transitioning from day to night shift and the resulting changes to their sleeping patterns which is all to frequent in the security industry.
iAuditor: IAuditor is an inspection App to enable your operatives in the field. It provides the necessary tools to assist in standardising and maintaining quality standards across your organisation.
Your team can collect consistent data, send reports, identify failed areas and get problems resolved. It provides a bottomless pit of reporting forms and useful templates and with a bit of digging you’ll likely be able to find a format which serves you in most situations. If this App is being used effectively you must also hold up your end of the bargain by ensuring sound backend processes are in place to manage the reports based on priority and to ensure resulting actions are effective – this is key to any good business/team.
Tape a Call Pro: Have you ever found yourself on an impromptu phone meeting with a client while driving, where you’ve agreed on several separate tasks which need to be completed but by time you’ve finished the call, arrived at your next destination, completed your meeting and returned to the office you can’t for the life of you remember what you need to get done. It’s as confusing as my last sentence!
With Tape a Call Pro you can record the phone call, listen back to it later and take down appropriate notes. It’s also a handy tool for analysing your phone conversation, assessing your delivery and improving your customer relations.
iWitnessed: Is designed to assist a person in reporting any crimes/incidents that they may see. It provides prompts for details that may often be forgotten when it comes to putting together a thorough incident report.
I’ve used iWitnessed since its release early last year and have found that it is able to extract a complete and detailed incident report from all levels of security operatives. It also allows a report to be sent directly to an email address of your choice in real time so management can act on incidents in real time.
Expensify: As someone who has spent an extensive amount of time working away from home, I know how hard it can be to maintain the paper trail to satisfy an accounts department.
For any security operative who spends a lot of time on the road, this App is an absolute godsend. The Expensify process is completely paperless! You simply photograph any work related expenses and it automatically records the key details and categorises them for reporting purposes. It can even be set up to automatically submit requests for reimbursement approval where necessary.
iTranslate: For those working in security you would no doubt have experienced multiple occasions where it’s been challenging communicating with people where English is their second language.
Or putting the shoe on the other foot – when spending time overseas I found myself to be the person lacking in communication. In this instance, iTranslate became my best friend. It has verbal recognition of sixteen languages and countless more in written text. For a security operative working the door of a venue there are many handy uses for this App – e.g. giving directions to a tourist in their own language to a tourist, translating notes often shoved into your hand, or pointing out the nearest taxi rank for an intoxicated international visitor.
Magicplan: I can’t fathom the amount of time I’ve saved with the use of Magicplan. Imagine turning your phone into a CAD drawing programme allowing you to draw up room plans, building plans and site layouts.
Need a site plan drawn up for a risk assessment? A layout required to accompany site orders or the need to show clients concerns with ingress and egress points? With Magicplan you can stand in a room and whilst turning in a circle mark the corners and voila you end up with a plan of the room inclusive of measurements.
Walk to the next room and the GPS tracker picks and repeats the process until you eventually have a full map of the building with windows and doors marked in. The finished product is far superior to any hand drawn efforts one could supply, saves a bucketload of time and the cost of employing a professional to draw it up for you.
Australian Red Cross: All too often I have observed people who have all the first aid training in the world, suddenly go blank as soon as the pressure of a real-life situation is on. Suddenly they can’t remember, was it 30 compressions or 30 breaths? Is it wrap the bandage towards the heart or away?
The Australian Red Cross App can reinforce any doubts and give clear instructions how to respond to medical emergencies ranging from broken bones, to diabetic emergencies through to treating anaphylactic shock from an allergy. No matter what your profession, I would recommend every single person with a smart phone has this App, it could quite literally be the difference between life and death.
Citizen Aid: It’s unfortunate that an App like Citizen Aid is considered necessary in Australia. Even as recently as a few years back I would have brushed away its use but with terrorist events becoming more prevalent and occurring even in Australia it would be remiss of me not to include this.
Citizen Aid is designed to assist general members of the public with knowing what to do in a terrorist attack. From active shooter situations, to knife attackers, to vehicles being used as weapons, it provides information on how best to respond, who to contact and how to treat those injured when safe to do so.
LinkedIn: Possibly the most obvious choice on the list, LinkedIn. LinkedIn has revolutionised business networking and created a new world of social networking in a professional environment.
It allows you to advertise your wins without coming across as gloating and allows you to have what you say about yourself validated and confirmed by your business partners in the form of endorsements and recommendations.
I share stories about the industry, publish articles detailing your personal experiences and learn from the other professionals within the industry. If you aren’t using LinkedIn, you’re shutting out countless potential resources!
Nowadays mobility is everything and the Internet is no longer just an information portal; it’s the ‘electricity’ of modern society and commerce, connecting us to the people and things we care about most. As a result, companies need to explore how they can effectively harness this to improve every element of business – and I believe that these 13 Apps provide tangible real-life business tools for security companies.
I’ve tested them all and found them useful in different contexts. Whilst technology can be a great tool in the right hands, (you can still have a “tool” operating the App so it does not suit all situations) it cannot be 100% relied upon.
Technology fails as we all know so while these Apps can assist you in the design of plans and emergency response don’t default your safety or that of your colleagues to them. Continue to learn, prepare and practice. Always remember that not all situations are the same and whilst these tools are very helpful, they are not effective without appropriate personnel training, reviews and feedback. Just because 2 tradies have the same tools does not mean they will build something to the same quality.
Some of you may disagree with some of these selections and that’s fine. What I do hope however is that you voice your opinions, get in touch and suggest alternatives or new Apps you have found useful in the security industry.
About The Writer:
Nick Karas has been the Managing Director of Dominance Guardian Services for over 20 years, providing a wide range of security services around all of Australia and overseas. It’s been a long journey – but Nick has worked hard in an industry he loves. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and a 200+ strong workforce, Nick is now considered to be one of the leaders in Melbourne’s ever expanding security industry and a valuable resource for any new or existing industry professional.