Arming Officers with Mobile Technology Creates Higher Caliber Work Force for Security One

About Security One, Inc.

In just 40 years Memphis-based Security One has become one of the largest contract security providers in the Southeast and Midwest. The company provides security for Fortune 500 companies, financial institutions, government facilities and a broad spectrum of commercially owned and managed properties that include residential communities, retail centers, commercial, medical and hospitality facilities and distribution centers.


A focus on customer service has helped Security One/SOI Security expand into six other southeastern and mid-western states. Even as the company nurtured relationships with existing clients and attracted new ones, Security One has always looked for ways to improve its services to be a true security solutions provider. The leadership team wanted to replace officers’ paper-based reporting processes to boost the speed and quality of information provided to clients. Security One also wanted to enhance officers’ safety. Because officers work on client premises, the solution had to be mobile; it also needed to be environmentally friendly and be introduced without a major investment in infrastructure.


Security One determined that Actsoft from AT&T, a suite of location-based work force management applications, was the most flexible, robust and cost-effective solution available. It enables the company’s officers to use smartphones or tablets equipped with a global positioning system (GPS) to collect data, take photos, create reports and send them all to supervisors and clients. The solution improves customer relations by providing richer, timelier reports, strengthens officers’ safety by transmitting their location and increases workplace efficiency by eliminating redundant tasks.

Better Tools for the Job

On any given day, several hundred Security One employees begin their daily rounds patrolling commercial, industrial and residential locations. They’re available to clients around the clock, but most are assigned the afternoon and overnight shifts, said Joe Joiner, Security One Vice President of Sales. “The rule of thumb in our industry is we go to work when the city goes home.”

Joiner understands that adage better than most as he has been in the security industry for nearly 30 years. Starting out as an officer when he was a college student gave him gave him a perspective of the industry and drove home the importance of customer service. “If something happens, the clients don’t need to know about it the next morning – they need to know about it immediately,” he said.

Security One has built a reputation for outstanding customer service, but the thoroughness of its processes sometimes meant delays in communicating with clients. Previously when an incident occurred, officers used two-way radios to summon supervisors, then took photos and wrote a report at the scene, which was later scanned and only then transmitted to the client. Joiner, who spearheads technology initiatives for the company, began researching applications to improve client communications and to increase employees’ safety and accountability.

“We wanted to equip our officers with better tools so they could do their jobs more effectively,” Joiner said, “and we wanted to make it easy for clients to get information.”

One Device Does it All

Security One chose Actsoft from AT&T, which uses GPS, mobile and web technologies. The application enables Security One officers to replace the camera, clipboard, paper and pens they had carried with a single device – their smartphone or tablet. Officers access Actsoft forms on their phones to create incident reports, using the phone to photograph the scene. They embed the pictures and submit a complete report to their supervisor and clients via the AT&T Wireless Network.

Using Actsoft allows Security One to give clients a quicker understanding of any situation. Because guards can send photos with the initial notification, clients are better able to determine whether it is necessary to go to the site or if the situation can wait until morning.

John Tuttle, Security One Armed Scheduling and Technology Manager, said officers also use the phones to document potential safety hazards like potholes or leaky pipes. This reduces the time it takes to send the information to maintenance crews to minutes instead of days or weeks. “This has accelerated a lot of processes,” Tuttle said. “The officers really feel this is a necessary tool.”

A Mobile Safety Net

Actsoft from AT&T helps protect Security One’s officers in two ways. First, it enhances officers’ safety by transmitting their GPS location every 60 seconds. Recently that feature enabled Security One’s 24-hour communication center to dispatch emergency medical technicians to a field commander who was seriously injured in a car crash when another driver ran a red light. The officer could respond to dispatch but was unable to give his location. Using Actsoft, the Security One dispatcher was able to see his location and direct EMTs to the scene.

Secondly, Actsoft also provides evidence of the officers’ routes and patrols which historically have been difficult to verify. “If a client says he hasn’t seen the officer, we can show the customer the exact times the officer was at his or her location with time and location stamps,” Tuttle said. Clients can get additional detail through a web portal; they can see officers’ locations in near real time, view daily activity logs, and suggest alternate routes or other changes to fine tune their security coverage.

“It’s important for those vehicles and patrol officers to be doing their job. With the help of Actsoft from AT&T we’ve been able to bring real value to clients by giving them access to information that validates that Security One is doing what we’re paid to be doing.”

“The Sky’s the Limit”

The company plans to derive further benefits from its AT&T solution by integrating Actsoft with its existing financial systems. “Our ultimate goal is automate and do paperless payroll and billing,” Joiner said.

Mary Beth Del Conte, the company’s IT consultant, has been working with Actsoft to design an interface with the existing systems. When the function is deployed, employees will no longer have to fill out paper time cards, Del Conte explained; simply logging in and out of Actsoft will generate digital time cards. “The time records will be reported in an Excel spreadsheet which will then be imported into our payroll processing program.”

Once the payroll process is in place, Security One will take it a step further, adding the necessary elements to automate client billing. “This will be so much more efficient and will make everything more accurate by eliminating handwritten processes,” Del Conte said. Automating billing will also eliminate redundancy, and the new processes will remove the temptation to clock in early or clock out late by storing the smartphones at the client site.

“Every part of the solution is phenomenal,” she said. “There’s just so much you can do with it. We feel like the sky’s the limit.”

Joiner agreed that the mobile workforce solution holds many possibilities, estimating that it could save Security One up to 20 percent on payroll costs. “We’re all very passionate about it, and once we can automate all of our processes, I think it will really pay further dividends by enabling us to give an even better product to our clients,” he said.

Upping the Game

Security One began deploying Actsoft with new customers but has since begun offering the solution to existing clients as well. “So far, every client we’ve talked to has bought into this solution and is willing to pay for it,” Joiner said. All have been impressed with the creativity Security One has shown in improving their security solution, giving customers better resources to manage their safety and security.

For instance, the company is helping a large logistics client use Actsoft forms to expedite the process of tracking vehicles, trailers and other key factors. “It’s a huge step for us in utilizing the technology and the client is excited about being one of the first logistics companies in Memphis to have it,” Joiner said. “This will make his business function better. Having a secure lot and verifying the accuracy of every truck going out will increase sales.”

Tuttle said other clients have been just as positive. “Response has been over the top. Our customers are completely impressed and really pleased with the information they’re getting. They feel like Security One has upped its game.”

The company is now reaching out to potential clients with money-saving ideas. One example is having officers perform safety checks as they make their rounds – using smartphones to scan the bar codes on fire extinguishers and other safety equipment to document locations, serial numbers and last inspection dates. “I really feel the more we roll this out the more we’ll find things we can do for our clients,” Joiner said.

An Investment in People

Security One provides its officers with extensive training on the use of smartphones, tablets and Actsoft. “One of the most significant benefits is increasing their knowledge and abilities through the use of the technology,” Tuttle said. “The training we provide will help them do their jobs better and they understand that it is an important safety tool for them.”

Employees also feel more closely linked to the office and take more ownership in their job. “They feel like they’ve got everything they need right there in their hands to be able to deliver a level of service that they weren’t able to do before,” Tuttle added.

Technology is changing the way security guards do their jobs, and Joiner said using Actsoft from AT&T puts Security One on the cutting edge of the industry. “Some competitors use a similar technology, but a lot of it is canned and inflexible,” he noted. “With Actsoft from AT&T, we have the ability to customize each report to meet our clients’ needs. Having this technology sets us apart from our competitors.”

Getting the most from superior technology requires product and account teams that are committed to the customer’s success. Joiner spoke with other companies as he considered workforce management applications, but saw clear advantages in working with AT&T. “The mobility team understood our needs and what we were looking for,” he said. “Our local team has been responsive and has stayed in touch with us throughout the process.

“I believe that the flexibility of Actsoft and the support of AT&T will strengthen our relationships with current clients and will help us attract new ones,” he added.

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