Security Guard App Guide
Security Guard app guide – what should you look for? Android or Apple? Is it supported and trusted? Find out in this article.
Security guard app guide
The smartphone transformed our lives and gave us the mobile app. From games to navigation the mobile app has truly empowered everyone, including those working in security.
In this article we will look at what questions to ask when purchasing a security guard app. We’ll look at the SIRV mobile app and gain an appreciation of what is important.
What is an App?
App is an abbreviation for application. Twenty years ago Microsoft’s Word application was pre-loaded onto a PC and version updates delivered via an external storage device.
As the internet grew the storage of applications moved from the local computer to remote servers that hosted the software. As a result everyone was downloading and updating applications through the web. In time this spawned a new industry: software as a service (SaaS).
A mobile app is a software application built for mobile devices (tablet or smartphone). They are installed on the mobile device operating system and receive updates from remote servers. These servers are hosted data centres.
Also, you may come across web apps. A web app is installed on a mobile device web browser, rather than its operating system. Compared to mobile apps, web apps are far less effort to build but they have drawbacks. For example, they are much less stable.
How to look for when buying a security guard app
When buying a security guard mobile app ask three questions:
1. Is the app stable?
Is the product a web or mobile app?
Web apps are based around web browsers and when they crash your app will crash. Therefore, when the browser crashes you will lose any stored data. If your data is important we recommend buying a mobile app.
2. How does the mobile app protect against any loss of data?
Information recorded on a mobile app is usually sent from the mobile app to a remote server. Therefore, you access recorded information through the internet.
When buying the guard app ask whether the transmission process from app to server is guaranteed. For instance, what safeguards are in place to ensure all the information sent is received? Any failure here is not only a liability but it will soon undermine the user’s trust in the product.
The SIRV app has a reconciliation process in place to ensure all data recorded is successfully received by the server.
Equally important is to find out what happens if the phone has no data connection. Data should be stored locally on the phone and sent when data connection is re-established.
3) What information security precautions are in place?
This is a huge area in itself. Therefore, if you are unclear about this area we recommend seeking out expert advise.
a) What security precautions are in place to ensure data cannot be accessed by others.
b) What will happen if someone uses the app to send illicit material to your server.
c) Where is the data hosted
Don not assume it is hosted locally. For instance, Zoom recently became the video conferencing software of choice. But it has attracted criticism for hosting data in China while its users were based outside China.
The security guard app design
Don Norman writes in The design of Every Day Things, as soon as you make something you are a designer.
Apple has shown how important design is to a product. However, there remains a complete under appreciation of design. A poorly designed product may have amazing features but it will not be used.
Apple are obsessed by design. Their chief designer Jony Ive, would care about the design of the inside of a smartphone, something 99.99% of people will never see.
For most of us software design is translated through the user interface. A good user experience (UX) will be a product that meets or exceeds our expectations and allows us to quickly navigate a product
Our security guard app guide asks the following questions:
Will the guard app allow the size of text to change?
Users may have difficulty reading small writing. Therefore, the app should allow the the user to adjust the text size?
Will the app translate speech to text?
Some apps will translate speech to text. This functionality is popular with the emergency services. However, speech to text is not 100% accurate and will often require editing (by text).
Is the app appropriate for a small mobile device?
Unlike computer displays, mobile device displays are often small. Writing reports on an 11 inch tablet is a very different experience to a 4 inch mobile phone.
Well designed mobile apps make allowances for limited screen space. For example, the SIRV security guard mobile app limits the number of characters you can allocate to a question (37). As a result all questions are legible on a mobile device of any screen size.
Apple or Android Security Guard App?
Two types of mobile phones run mobile apps, those with Android and those with iOS operating systems. Only Apple devices run the iOS operating system, whereas Android (developed by Google) licenses their operating system to allow hardware manufacturers (such as Samsung) to develop their own hardware and load Android onboard.
Over time both operating systems and mobile devices have converged to offer similar features and experiences. However, there are broadly two differences between the products:
> Apple products are regarded as providing a better user experience.
> Android are often much cheaper than Apple devices.
A few years ago Apple did not offer NFC, a crucial feature for proof of presence and guard patrol apps. This meant a security guard tracking app was only available on Android. However, today this feature is available on Apple. The SIRV app runs on both Apple and Android devices.
For a full review of iPhone vs Android check out this guide.
Touch and Swipe
If you observe someone using a smartphone you will see them swiping and touching the screen rather than tipping and tapping. This kind of interactivity suits the use of image recognition rather than text.
The SIRV mobile app design philosophy follows the Windows design, Metro styling. This includes both image and text.
The layout of information on a mobile app is crucial. For example, if you buy insurance online you probably need to complete a form. A poorly designed form will not tell you how long will it take to complete the form. The form will be split-up and it will not allow you to skip forward to see how long the form is until you have completed the first section.
This is a very frustrating experience. But a well designed app will avoid these frustrations.
Design may appear minor but it helps increase the likelihood your security officer will use the product. Don Norman famously used the example of cooking hob controls to show how poor design leads to frustration and low satisfaction.
“Beauty and brains, pleasure and usability – they should go hand in hand.” Don Norman
What are the security guard app features?
It may surprise you to learn typically 95% of a product’s functionality is not used. Reasons for this are:
- Users are not aware of all the functions.
- What attracts the user to the product is not actually that useful when it’s deployed.
- The person that buys the product is not the user.
When we demonstrate SIRV to customers they will often be attracted to our decision tree feature. However, less than 10% of customers will end up using them.
What is the security app’s current functionality?
When you purchase a security guard management app ensure it has these key features:
- Proof of presence (more on different kinds of proof of presence here).
- Reporting forms for events and incidents.
- Remote control over app installation and removal.
In addition, ensure you can easily review the information online.
Around 90% of SIRV users consider these features essential. Other functionality, such as messaging, is available but it is not core to the user experience.
What future functionality is planned?
Before you buy the guard app ask the developer about their future development plans. Ask whether the developer has a history of adding features and what is their road map.
What support is given to the security guard app?
Operating systems, standards and security features are changing all the time. Therefore, to keep up with these changes your guard app needs to be supported.
If the developer does not update the app then it could pose a security risk or stop working altogether. When choosing the security apps ask for information about their last 3 years of updates.
There are more than one million apps on the Apple App Store. But many are defunct because they are no longer supported. For example, many apps have been developed by local councils and cities to help citizen reporting (holes in road etc). But, after budgets ran out the apps were unsupported and now they are zombie apps.
Buying an app is like buying a car. It will require maintenance and fixing. Few people buy a car without a warranty and maintenance. Therefore, you should factor into your purchase the extent and quality of support provided.
Types of support
Technical support can be offered by phone, email or web chat. But getting phone support is expensive.
Expect most developers to offer email support only.
The SIRV mobile app has a service level agreement (SLA) that provides an email response within 24 hours on a work day. But note, a response is not a fix.
When buying the security app ask how quickly bugs are fixed.
Differentiate between technical support and training. If a user does not know how to operate the app then that is a training issue. Whereas, technical support helps with bugs. For example the app homepage not loading.
Security Guard App Guide Conclusion
In conclusion, buying a security guard mobile app is similar to buying other big ticket items. The market is now developed, with healthy competition, choice and reliable solutions available.
The brand of the developer should carry weight and answer many of the above concerns straight away. If you have access to your own IT department try to get them to help you through the buying process.
Now you’ve used the security guard app guide to buy an app, the next question is what phone should you use? Check out our security guard phone guide for an answer to that question.