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  • Use of PDA's in Security

    Apart from my own PDA Phone - I am curious as to the use of PDA or PDA Phones in Security that you may come across. I know an Aussie mate who is consulting in LP to a major US retailer has issued these to LPS and LPI or higher roles to expedite reports or covert msgs to keep staff from behind a desk. Another friend who runs a patrol company here has them for staff to cover all patrol sites as well as any additional information such as night time roadworks that is updated hourly.

    Are PDA's a worthwhile tool in our industry and if so in what capacity ?
    "Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer" Sun Tzu

  • #2
    I'm aware of a couple of companies here in the US that issue PDA's to their LP Managers and above. Reports and audits and everything they can think of goes on the PDA.

    They may be a flood of these on the market soon as one of these companies is about to go out of business. My guess is with the next year.
    Retail Security Consultant / Expert Witness
    Co-Author - Effective Security Management 6th Edition

    Contributor to Retail Crime, Security and Loss Prevention: An Encyclopedic Reference

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    • #3
      Where friend is working (won't go into specifics) they trialled for floor walkers but too many staff were leaving them behind or misplacing them but for the Auditors / Investigators, they were a brilliant new tool. But like anything, if you lose it, you are already behind the 8ball.
      "Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer" Sun Tzu

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      • #4
        WARNING - VERY LONG POST.

        Interesting thread. I just finished a CI project for a client on the topic of "ubiquitous computing" - computing everywhere, all the time, basically - and future trends in that arena. It wasn't long before I was following a second line of inquiry involving nanotechnologies, a third line involving 4th-gen WLAN, another involving implantable microscopic biometric instrumentation, another involving "smart machines", and finally wearable human-computer-network interfaces. If I hadn't called a halt to the investigation, I'd have next been looking into MEMS (basically, smart microsensors and micromachines on the order of molecular size that can, when combined with other microdevices such as microtransceivers, do mind-boggling things, such as GPS tracking, and can be literally PRINTED by a printer that uses nothing more sophisticated than ink-jet technology...meaning they can be incorporated into a shipping label). This takes a minute to think about - devices that can be created by printing them using very ordinary technology, because they are only a few molecules in thickness - and of course, ink is actually thousands of molecules thick, although we don't think of ink that way - it looks "flat" to us.

        I finally had to give the client an executive summary of the "landscape" and ask him to narrow the range of inquiry. We'll see where he wants to go from here.

        The bottom line, though, is simply this: As marvelous as PDAs are, they will soon be considered as clunky and outdated as the boombox compared to the iPod. The transforms that are coming in the next 3 to 10 years are astonishing to the point of even being fairly frightening (when considered from the standpoint of possibilities for abuse and their potential utility for criminal and/or terrorist activity). And, these transforms will impact virtually every industry and every domain of human activity...all the way into the bedroom. (Think microhydraulics to replace Viagra and without the drug side effects. Got that? OK - and this is not MY suggestion - now imagine microtransmitters that will trigger the penile microhydraulics when Momma reaches a predetermined state of vaginal "moistness", as reported by her own microsensors.) People are talking about such things with perfectly straight faces. See my comments below about the abuse of technology by "well-meaning" people. One wonders how this will work when you take Momma to the theater and she gets turned on by Brad Pitt, whom you are also watching, and your John Thomas starts to rise. Well, try to imagine it for yourself and think "psychological conditioning". Soon, every time you watch Brad Pitt, even when you're alone...well, it doesn't bear thinking about.

        In the realm of security, it is entirely possible to imagine several significant lines of development:

        1. The "connected" security officer who is completely networked both locally and "wide-area" via wearable computing and communications devices, with a see-through heads-up display much like we find in jet aircraft and worn like sunglasses (some loon - or visionary, depending on your viewpoint - suggested an implantable display lens sort of like the lenses that they implant now into cataract patients). This officer will be "connected" to other officers, to headquarters, AND to all manner of microsensors and streams of data (video, etc.) originating in the area of his responsibility. He won't be using a PDA that he can lose. He will be able to control his computing/communicating environment - for instance, zooming his wearable display - in ways that defy imagination...facial muscles, eye movements, and perhaps even thought.

        2. Increasing use of "robocops" - meaning real robots - as on-site responders. There is a rumor that one has already been demonstrated that successfully differentiated an "intruder" from among three other "innocents" by means of microtransmitters in their company ID tags, and took him down using a Taser-like weapon. One internationally famous museum in Europe is looking into a robot that can respond and on detecting and differentiating an intruder will activate appropriate security doors positioned throughout the facility as a form of "man-trap" until human responders arrive, etc.

        3. RFID will either incorporate microtechnologies or be replaced by them. Either way, it will be possible and economical to tag and track items as inexpensive as a pack of gum or an important letter mailed to someone. Some see the possibility of electronically serial-numbering postage stamps to enable law enforcement to trace anthrax letters, package bombs, etc. back to the sender. The post office, of course, would record your identity when you buy stamps (see what I mean by frightening?).

        4. GPS-type tracking using inexpensive triangulation devices will extend GPS capabilities indoors, so that, combined with ubiquitous sensors, responding officers will know precisely where an intruder is hiding, down to the half-foot or less.

        5. All manner of devices will become capable of being polled and controlled. The temptation is to think about this idea sort of like the "smart home" on steroids, where you call home and ask the refrigerator what you need to pick up on the way home, but that's just the water's edge of the possibilities. What you have to do to try to get this picture is to imagine microsensors, microtransceivers, microcontrollers and micromachines implanted in virtually ANYTHING and ANYBODY, and then, in your imagination, link up the THING with the ANYBODY.

        On the positive side, children with implantable microsensors and transmitters (more sophisticated but along the lines of the chips we use for pets) and who wander away from their parents on the family camping trip would be found instantaneously and they wouldn't be able to remove any clunky "tracking" devices. An abduction or a rape might well be interrupted in progress. "Man-down" implantables could be placed in remote workers at risk, such as home healthcare workers, real estate agents and farmers. These devices would report the individual's precise location. Executive protection specialists could create a moving "zone of exclusion" around their client by "reading" the identities of people within, say, 4 or 5 feet of the client and noting that someone does not give the implantable code response implanted into EP agents.

        Police administrators could give silent "go/no-go" shooting orders and, on the more "iffy" side of things, you can even see how officer's weapons could be manufactured that would require an "OK" code from an administrator or supervisor before they would fire. Most likely, this would be used as a "no-go" code whereby the default condition is "fire", but the administrator could under certain circumstances (e.g., a barricaded subject) deactivate weapons to prevent anyone from firing without orders.

        On the negative side, of course, there is the stark reality that every new technology can be subverted in one way or another to evil purposes. This is the dilemma of technologists - knowing that whatever they invent might - and probably will - be subverted. This has been true ever since the invention of fire.

        Also on the negative side will be the ability to capture and analyze data streaming from these microdevices. I say "negative" because it's one thing to be able to locate someone in real time when a situation legitimately calls for it, but it's another to capture a record of their movements. It's nice that a sensor will alert the IT department that an employee has spilled coffee onto his keyboard, but when the same technology can tell us how often he has refilled his coffee cup (perhaps triggering a "refusal" by the coffee urn to dispense more coffee to him when he has reached the "limit" by corporate policy) or left his cubicle during the day (and exactly where he went), it gets very scary. Perhaps microsensors woven into the carpeting will report that Fred has gained 10 pounds and trigger an order on his computer for him to report to the company gym for compulsory weight-control intervention. After all, companies pay higher insurance rates for obesity-related illnesses, so that would be the justification! If this sort of thing sounds silly, you haven't been watching trends in how technologies become abused, not by criminals but by "well-meaning" people who have a "legitimate justification" for extending their control over others.

        In other words, the main foreseeable type of abuse with microdevices is their potential for an unbelievable degree of intrusiveness and when you realize that these devices can be manufactured AT SCALE and VERY CHEAPLY, you really begin to understand how they will become ubiquitous and how pervasive their intrusion can become. Think "disposable GPS tracking devices" costing less than a nickel to manufacture and you'll get the idea.
        Last edited by SecTrainer; 11-02-2007, 09:26 AM.
        "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

        "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

        "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

        "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

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        • #5
          We use PDA's with barcode scanners built in that cost well over $1000 each at my site. We only use them for one single purpose; we use them as a guard tour system. We implement over 7 of these in the field and have 7 more on back-up status and we have hundreds of barcodes around the site that the officers must scan while doing the rounds.

          Every other functionality of these over $1000 PDA's have been removed and we are only using them as $150 guard tour wands. (Sorry I had to say it again.)

          California Security Blog
          Domain Registration Services

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          • #6
            I am going to bring them in for my RM team of 32 and and the models I have seen are $500 US (thankfully our AUD $ is 93cents US now). As most of them are out and about conducting investigations, audits, or following up on cases, it is harder to send an email because they need to fire up their notebooks, read and reply, so these things are a great portable tool for communication and of course are not foolproof. Who is going to walk around with a notebook under their arm all day when people will carry a handheld device that can be used for taking case notes or contain a case file ?

            In 2008 I am supposed to now inherit the OH&S (work place safety side of the business) so have discussed this with their team who are eager to use the PDA's for their audits and inspections too.
            "Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer" Sun Tzu

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            • #7
              Originally posted by NRM_Oz View Post
              I am going to bring them in for my RM team of 32 and and the models I have seen are $500 US (thankfully our AUD $ is 93cents US now). As most of them are out and about conducting investigations, audits, or following up on cases, it is harder to send an email because they need to fire up their notebooks, read and reply, so these things are a great portable tool for communication and of course are not foolproof. Who is going to walk around with a notebook under their arm all day when people will carry a handheld device that can be used for taking case notes or contain a case file ?

              In 2008 I am supposed to now inherit the OH&S (work place safety side of the business) so have discussed this with their team who are eager to use the PDA's for their audits and inspections too.
              I remember when $1 US bought $2.47 AUD - those were the days.
              Retail Security Consultant / Expert Witness
              Co-Author - Effective Security Management 6th Edition

              Contributor to Retail Crime, Security and Loss Prevention: An Encyclopedic Reference

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Security Consultant View Post
                I remember when $1 US bought $2.47 AUD - those were the days.
                Yes, a strong dollar is good for travelers abroad and US importers, but not for US exporters! A weaker dollar helps to ease the nation’s imbalances by making American exports more affordable, thus narrowing the trade deficit. Seems like there's just no way to have our cake and eat it too.
                "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

                "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

                "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

                "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

                Comment


                • #9
                  My friend was in Hawaii during that time and told me that the beaches were packed as no1 could afford to go to clubs or on tours. He met up with his now wife when her friend asked if he would rent out his hotel room spare beds since they were flat broke and could not change their travel plans to come home for another week. I know my first trip to the USA in 1988 I bought a baseball jacket for $100 AUD that was selling for $450 AUD in a sports store (hence why when 501's were popular and worth $140 AUD we would go to the USA and get them for $35.00 AUD - same as NIKES for 40% the cost. I always helped the US economy on every holiday and work trip I made there.
                  "Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer" Sun Tzu

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                  • #10
                    speaking of gps there was talk that police depts would go with gps in there cars. I have gps on my laptop helps me get to places and tells me how fast I am going and shows my car on a moveing map. the thing I hear from hanging out with police Officers, is they all say theres no way we want gps in are cars. we dont want the Brass knowing when we are at a doughnut shop or how fast we are going and what if someone hacked into the data thats transmitted from the squad. that person could see where every cop car is.

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                    • #11
                      When I rode along with a PD for my senior project the officer I rode with had a GPS program on his in car laptop. I thought it was very cool because he could easily input the information and could easily see the map. Very useful tool for finding unfamiliar locations.

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                      • #12
                        We have used them as in car GPS which means 1 unit if you travel interstate which I tend to do occassionally to conduct an audit or ride shotgun on a major interview. Whilst I may know most direct routes, often we take the person away from the office area to a hotel conference room which is cheaper to hire and ensures privacy with less EYES and EARS watching.
                        "Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer" Sun Tzu

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                        • #13
                          The Department I work for is college owned and we have 3 PDA's, one for the student patrollers, one for the true Security Officers, and one for the Administrator of Security. And to answer your question yes it is a wealthy college.
                          -Protect and Serve-

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