Location Technology: Hospitality’s Answer to Lone Worker Protection
According to the Center for American Progress, more than 25 percent of sexual harassment charges filed from 2005 to 2015 occurred in industries dominated by service-sector workers.
In New York, Seattle and Chicago, unions and city governments are already working to keep hospitality staff safe — and the same is now happening in Miami Beach.
In Miami Beach, hotel union Unite Here Local 355 conducted a survey that found 63 percent of more than 70 local hotel workers shared that they had been sexually assaulted or harassed while working in guest rooms. To address the problem, Miami is implementing a technological solution already in use in other major metropolitan areas in the United States: panic buttons. Varying in size and features, each panic button must be sophisticated enough to call security when a staff member presses the button.
For most hospitality businesses owners, purchasing and deploying panic buttons to hotel staff is the first, and usually easiest, step. However, implementing how the button will work is another story.
Since the market carries a variety of options, from basic alerts that simply note problems, to a range of certainty-based locating duress alerts that give immediate location information at the press of a button, it is important that hotel owners be aware of how each type of alert works and what technology infrastructure is required on the hotel's part.
Here are some factors to consider:
THE RECEIVING END
Panic buttons can be configured to reach security staff, a front desk associate or even reroute directly to alert the police. Hotel owners can then choose from discrete options that will identify the situation, quickly and securely, with limited discomfort to other guests.
Not having a clear view of the location of the situation can make an immediate response more challenging, and working on basic Bluetooth technology alone can mean spotty connectivity that can affect location. Room-level locating powered by Second Generation Infrared (Gen2IR™), by contrast, gives hotel owners a range of precision results to respond to incidents quickly. Depending on budget and hotel size, owners looking for options can choose from various locating technologies that differentiate between floors and scale up to identify specific rooms, saving time for the responders answering distress calls. This not only provides immediate help to the staff member, but limits guest discomfort by providing a direct path to the incident.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
In line with security team size, location is another consideration. Precision location is important in any emergency scenario, from sprawling resorts to small hotels — knowing where staff is being threatened is invaluable information, regardless of the size of the building. Certainty-based locating duress is preferred in any scenario, as it cuts response time by pinpointing the exact location of the incident across the property.
It’s also worth noting that for certainty-based locating duress solutions, the system can be configured such that location capabilities are only active in the event of an incident. The button will not act as a full time tracking device for hotel staff. If staff or hotel owners are uneasy about the technology being used, it is important that the solution chosen is scalable such that the locating capabilities can be enhanced if and when the business owner decides to upgrade.
In implementing panic buttons, the technology options range from simple Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology to certainty-based technology that runs on active-RFID (radio frequency identification). At the most basic level, systems alert security of a problem happening within the walls of the business. However, in line with what the duress solution is supposed to accomplish, certainty-based locating offers a more refined, scalable solution that can be used to pinpoint the exact location of the incident in real time. Trusted Gen2IR™ powered technology providers offer a tiered system to match the business’s needs and budget, with the duress alerts ranging from floor level to exact room.
There are many options to fit different business models and budgets. The next step is to configure a solution that meets the unique needs of your hotel.
Deric Blattenberger, a product manager at CenTrak, has been in the business of creating products for workflow and safety with dedicated focus on customer experience for over 14 years. As an Engineer, it is Deric’s belief that the continuous advancement of true location systems will empower us to collectively meet unique and changing demands of our present and future.