Why Your Next Security Guard May Be a Robot Named Scot

The Use of Robotics is Set to Change the Private Security Guard Industry

The cost of hiring a security guard to watch your assets and report criminal activity or safety incidents is estimated to be from $12 to $20 per hour.  So, what would happen to the security guard industry if you could deploy a robotic security guard for a small fraction of that cost; say, $3 per hour?  If you are in the business of providing security guard services, you are likely watching developments in robotics – including drones, mobile robots, and stationary security observation towers very closely.  You may even be experiencing some anxiety over the potential of robots eating into your revenue stream.  If you are a consumer of security guard services, you may be a little giddy over the prospect of these robotic wonders drastically reducing your overall security expenditure.  As is often the case, the truth lies somewhere between the two extremes.

Even the most optimistic proponents of the use of robotics in security don’t foresee the elimination of the need for human security guards.  While robots are fun, new, exciting, and a novelty – the truth is that they can’t do what a human can do.  They aren’t even designed to replace human security guards, rather they are designed to assist the guard force; to expand a security guard’s vision and reach.  A force-multiplier, if you will.  They are, at best, security monitors that can report back to your guard staff and bring their attention to events and incidents that may need human intervention.

What robots can do is work tirelessly, without breaks, 24/7.   They can reduce the number of human guards needed to provide a similar level of protection.  They can provide surveillance, monitoring, and reporting capabilities at a fraction of the cost; therefore enabling you to provide a higher level of security than would be economically feasible if deploying a 100% human force.  They can work in concert with your human security guard force to free up the humans to do things like – well, interact with other humans.  You don’t need a $20/hr guard to watch an empty courtyard.  But a robot, on the other hand, won’t mind doing that at all; and will even notify you if the empty courtyard becomes an occupied space that may need human intervention.

Meet SCOT.  SCOT is the acronym for Security Control and Observation Tower.  SCOT is a robot in every sense of the word, except Scot doesn’t move around by himself.  You can move him quite easily, but he can’t do it alone.  Scot comes free of some of the drawbacks that have plagued the rapid growth of mobile security robots.  These drawbacks include high cost, too frequent malfunctions, limited ability to move through all terrains, and the dreaded running into something, or someone, that they shouldn’t.

Brilliance Security Magazine recently met with Steve Reinharz, Founder & CEO of Robotic Assistance Devices (RAD), and Matt Klock, VP of Sales for RAD to learn what we could about the use of robots in security generally, and SCOT specifically.  These two security industry veterans are, to say the least, enthusiastic about robots and SCOT.

While Steve and Matt don’t tend to use the term “security kiosk,” opting instead for the “security in a box” moniker, it seems to fit SCOT pretty well.  And while not mobile, in that he doesn’t move on his own, SCOT is a movable security tower that can provide an array of security (and even customer service) related services for as low as “$3 per hour,” Matt Klock says.  SCOT can be plugged into a standard electrical outlet or, for those more temporary (or remote) post assignments, there is a battery powered version.  A solar rechargeable version is on the roadmap but doesn’t seem to be available quite yet.

At a minimum security kiosks are equipped with cameras, microphones, and intercoms that allow an operator at a central console to see, hear, and communicate in the vicinity of the tower.  If the operator is controlling several of these robots, she is multiplied in her effectiveness.  Steve and Matt claim that SCOT goes well beyond these basic capabilities.

SCOT is capable of employing “human detection analytics which will alert on the presence of a human in the environment,” or even “compare captured images against a database of known faces,” says Steve Reinharz.  With the exception of any meaningful intervention, these devices will do much of what a security guard standing in the same position as the tower could do.  They can observe, document, analyze, and report any number of security threats.

RAD has developed this short animated video to illustrate the capabilities of their SCOT solution.

So, in the end, technological advances in robotics are being used to help security guards be more powerful, efficient, and cost-effective.  Just what you would hope technology would do wherever it is applied.  These advances can take one security guard and act as a force multiplier.  They can enhance situational awareness and facilitate a faster response.  They are not likely to totally disrupt the security guard industry, like rideshare did the taxicab business, but to be sure, robots will have their effect and may replace some humans currently deployed on the lower (less skilled) end of the security guard spectrum.

Steven Bowcut, CPP, PSP is the Editor-in-Chief of Brilliance Security Magazine.