Security Solutions in Hotels

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The Novotel Goa Shrem Hotel, part of the Accor Hotels was looking for an intelligent video surveillance solution to efficiently monitor hotel premises and provide an infrastructure to boost staff productivity and improve resource management. The only way to achieve this was through the deployment of an advanced security system supported by cutting-edge products. The hotel deployed varied models of Axis cameras which includes a mix of both indoor and outdoor cameras (AXIS P1354-E, AXIS M3045-V, and AXIS P1405-E). These cameras are installed at different locations; including corridors, lobby, parking, elevators main entrance and exits, restaurants, bars and pantry. They have also been installed in utility areas such as material movement locations, electrical panel rooms and DG power rooms for monitoring. The installation of the Axis surveillance system in the Novotel Goa Shrem Hotel property have simplified the security coordination, ensuring safety and security of guests which was the primary concern from the management team of the Novotel Goa Shrem Hotel. The successful network recording and storage provision has brought down the necessity of staff dependency; thereby increasing efficiency while cutting costs. The importance of security and surveillance can hardly be over emphasized in today’s times. In the context of hotels, this gains more importance as this is a public space that sees a large amount of footfalls. Likewise, solution providers are also changing gears to up the ante as far as security is concerned. Since the 26/11 attack the hospitality industry has continuously been fighting with every challenge in respect with terrorism and other security risks by adapting to new technologies and training the security personnel and other employees as well.

Securing Right

To start with the basics, there are several security and surveillance concerns that hotels and restaurants currently face and their reputation is largely based on the safety and security accorded to guests. “Crime and other related activities have risen substantially over time owing to numerous factors such as theft, cheating, harassment of guests or staff, molestation, sabotage, financial fraud, injuries, natural disasters, sabotage and extending up to terrorist activities as witnessed in the Mumbai attacks not just on the super luxury hotels, but also at a stand-alone popular restaurant,” said Rohit Katyal, Head of Sales and Marketing, Justa Hotels & Resorts.  Naturally, ensuring safety and security of all tangible and intangible assets includes a whole gamut of tools such as fire detection systems, explosives and narcotics detectors, sniffer dogs, boom barriers, automatic bollards, Under Vehicle Surveillance System (UVSS), automatic door operators, electronic locking solutions, baggage scanner, access controlled key cards to rooms and floors and more.

Tech Talk

In terms of surveillance systems, many of the hotel chains are still using analog technology. The security decisions are localized and there is still no common framework for security requirements. “We see a growing demand coming from conversion of analog to digital systems and the development of intelligent building systems that help in the convergence of multiple networks over an IP backbone. Another threat is data security; many hotels implement cameras which are vulnerable to third party attacks. That can create national security issues if not kept under check. Axis provides state-of-the-art cameras and end to end solutions without a no back door policy. This means that at every node, the data is encrypted and cannot be accessed by a hacker. This ensures that the feed and analytics software cannot be misused. The need of the hour is a smart and intelligent video monitoring solution which will be able to pre-empt incidences and secure the safety of the customers,” said Sudhindra Holla, Country Manager, India & SAARC, Axis Communications.

Training

Hotel staff should be encouraged if not rewarded to report situations that are dangerous or might be dangerous. A trained staff that can identify and react appropriately in the identification of potential and or actual risk is the best and most cost effective security technique for any hotel.
“Training programs can also range from simple to complex but there is no substitute or excuse for hotel staff not to be given basic training on the importance of hotel security. If a hotel can afford it, advanced security training for management staff is highly recommended. Hotel owners and operators should identify the probability and severity of risk for their owned or managed property. This can be done based on an internal review of previous incidents if any at the property as well as in the hotel vicinity, through an internal security department, or outside security consultants and or vendors. An integrated security program which encompasses both manpower and physical security systems can then be designed to best protect hotels assets,” said Anil Mohan, Joint President Personnel & Security Jaypee Hotels & Resorts. Again, these solutions can be used to get a better return on investment, without compromising on the security. With the advent of mobile technology and artificial intelligence, it has provided more efficient options to predict patterns and enhance the security and safety features at hotels. Shawn D’Sa, Security Manager, Planet Hollywood Resort, Goa explained, “technology is a great tool to have but it still takes a human touch to maximize it. All staff should be trained on the importance of security and what all staff members should look for and try to do when there is a situation or incident at the Hotel. Hotel staff should be encouraged to report situations that are dangerous or might be dangerous. In addition to training staff, the components of an integrated security program consist of the utilization of security personnel and the operation and maintenance of installed physical security systems.”

Doing the Math

Security threats are evolving every day, mandating an evolution in the mechanics of security. Today, it is an important aspect of security to amalgamate the physical man-power security into the realm of smart technologically aided Pro-active security surveillance. “Technology today allows us to secure our properties through interconnected security solutions. Since the late 90s, the instrumentation of the properties have been happening with conventional burglar alarm system, CCTV systems, EM locks, etc. It had the basic limitation that the systems were not interconnected. With change in technology the concept of Security has changed and technology based security that can be integrated and can be remotely accessed has become an essential part of our homes and personal life. With the convergence of Automated Security as well as mobile internet, the systems are now capable of proactively notifying concerned authorities of any breach in the security systems to Advanced Command Centers like Soteria Command Center and thus through a well -defined System of Procedure work with the concerned authorities and mitigate the breach. This helps to bring the situation under control even before any crime or any situation goes out of control. This is not only a smart investment but an essential tool that secures your security,” said Major Manjit Rajain, Group Chairman, Tenon Group. Mahendar Singh, Assistant Manager Security, Hyatt Regency Gurgaon added, “the procedures to use these equipments need to be created from the hospitality point of view. People who operate these systems need to be thoroughly trained in using the system. These security personnel should play the role of customer service executive while doing the job of security.”

Vendor Considerations

It is quite critical to ensure that the partner or vendor is extremely reliable and their services and products are truly efficient as at no point in time will the organization want a situation where safety and security of any of the stake holders is compromised leading to a dent in its’ valuable reputation. Selecting a security vendor is best accomplished when we conduct due diligence by checking vendor licensing, reputation, references and financial stability. An examination of the security vendor background screening process, training programs, level of supervision, price factor are some of the necessary consideration in due diligence process. “We work with both local as well as international suppliers/companies. We choose to work with the local supplier because we get quick service support whenever required as per global standard,” said D’Sa. Again, after installation, it is important that suppliers are proactive. Christopher Armstrong, Safety and Security Manager, Park Hyatt Hyderabad opines, “they are very proactive when it comes to resolving issues with the right technical support, assuring that the allocated task is completed and the report is generated by the end of the same day. However it is also good to be in direct touch with the manufacturing companies so that we get immediate solutions to issues when and if required.” There is also a marked preference to work with local suppliers over international companies. “International companies have the advantage of technological advancements and here we have the advantage of service. So we prefer a good mix of both. We prefer to work with International companies who offer local support as after-sale service plays a very important role,” said Rajesh Kumar, Head of Security, The Leela Palace Bengaluru.

Maintain & Check

Most hotels have regular training programs on security for all including top executives to associate level as well as Annual Maintenance contract (AMC) with service providers to ensure regular servicing is done on timely basis. Regular tests and drills are conducted to maintain effectiveness of all equipment and procedures. Rajeev Sharma, India Head G4S said, “due to the complexity of operations in running a successful hotel special audits are organised to ensure proper working and dissemination of safety related information and its implementation. These audits are conducted at random to make sure all the security protocols are actively being followed on an appropriate level. All the equipment’s and infrastructural amenities are checked and replaced from time to time to minimize any kind of risks and errors.” Sharma added, “we have state of the art infrastructure to support our deliverables with dual back up and emergency response plan. There are initial 30 and 90 day plans to support the stabilization and performance monitoring, in addition we being the leaders in Security Solutions, bring in global best practices, expertise, experience and highly specialized processes. There is round the clock help desk supported by National operations control room to react to any requirement in shorted possible time.” Continuous audit, monitoring and upgrading of equipment along with high-level training of guarding forces is done to ensure an effective and impenetrable system installation in the premises. Gaurav Choksey- Owner of The Spare Kitchen, Worli added, “we review and reinvest in these solutions every 2-3 years depending on what improvements are available in the market for all the digital solutions we require; such as changing SD to HD cameras, and updating the POS system with a more user friendly version.”

Now Trending

Probably the enhancements that are being invented and made available in the market for our segment such as extended mobility and AI, we are looking at ways where human intervention is minimized through introduction enhanced technology by which we conserve time and increase prediction, efficiency and accuracy in the security division. Solutions are based on the requirement of the end user. For a win-win solution, a hotel or restaurant must ideally deploy a combination of manned and remote surveillance that includes a centralised intelligent video surveillance and monitoring system with alarms, which captures high-quality images throughout the hotels 24×7, physical security guards and discreet screening of cars and baggage,” explained Holla. Having closed-circuit television to monitor the property does not matter too much if no one is looking at the monitors. Recent innovations in software have solved this problem. “Coupled with software, video cameras can now recognize activity in an area and provide an alert. One example, the system can alert when there is activity in a valet parking area. Some of these systems have voice command capability, where operators can see and warn off people captured on surveillance. Most properties have some sort of video surveillance of employee activities around sensitive areas, such as the front desk and cash drawer. But new technology enables another level of monitoring. Software enables hotel owners to match transactions with video surveillance, eliminating the need to watch hours and hours of video to find potential criminal activity. For example, the software can detect when a cash drawer is left open and will show that whatever is being passed over a scanner is actually read,” said Sanjay Misra, Chief Security Officer, Radisson Blu Paschim Vihar.

New Vistas

The changing environment also calls for new age deployments in the security space. Suryakant Jadhav, Security Manager, Double Tree by Hilton, Pune said, “according to me each hotel employee should be trained as a security person. They should be eyes and hands of security. This will minimize threats and increase guest satisfaction. We have regular training on CCTV Survelliance and a dedicated team to take care of trouble shooting. Surprise audits and tests ensure that the team doesn’t slack in their tasks.” Pulkit Punj, Director AnG India Ltd. added, “there are lots of latest solutions in these segments, however the ones successful in our market are – CCTV with analytics (such as ANPR, facial recognition etc), Multi zone fire detection system with optical detectors, Integrated CMS within the hotel premises with sensors, and automated barriers.” New age security systems are certainly making sure that hotels keep their environs safe for themselves, guests and the society as well.

This story appeared in the July 2017 issue of Hotelier India here: Security Solutions

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