Jul 05, 2019Thousands of Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled security vehicles from Brosnan Risk Consultants are patrolling parking lots, malls and other properties throughout the United States. A security officer operating each vehicle provides real-time patrolling, while the sensors and IoT technology act as another set of eyes and ears, forwarding the collected data to a command center in real time. The company's SmartTruck system, commercially released this spring, employs technology from IoT connectivity firm MetTel.
Brosnan, a full-service security provider, protects private and public properties like retail stores, malls, data centers, distribution centers, office buildings and bank parking areas after hours. Officers are trained to proactively identify safety and security risks, respond to such incidents accordingly and record these activities in Brosnan's mobile app. The firm employs 3,000 security officers across 38 states.
Before the IoT-based system's launch, the company faced some challenges related to managing a fleet of this size and the officers who operate the vehicles, according to Pat Brosnan Jr., Brosnan Risk Consultants' VP of operations and technology. Challenges included managing the fuel, maintenance and repair of each vehicle, as well as oversight of driver activity, dealing with accidents and coaching drivers about their work. The company sought a technology-based solution for fleet management that would prove vehicles were in service when and where they should be. However, it also wanted a system that would capture data in real time, both in and around a vehicle, and that could be used if an officer left the immediate vicinity of his or her truck.
Brosnan began working with MetTel about 18 months ago to develop a system that would capture and wirelessly transmit sensor-based data from vehicles across the company's fleet, says Ryan Crandell, MetTel's director of IoT and mobile solutions. The resulting SmartTruck system consists of a wireless gateway device onboard each vehicle that captures and manages data collected from sensors, cameras and the vehicle's own system to identify what is taking place in and around it. It also comes with a cellular connection to MetTel's cloud-based software platform, which interprets the data and makes it available to the company's analysts viewing content at Brosnan's command center in New York. Data can be provided to the field-management team via Bronan's app.
As a guard goes about rounds in his or her vehicle, the wireless gateway device collects information. Staff members at the command center can view this data to determine where a particular vehicle is located, how it is being driven and what kind of activity might be taking place within its vicinity. Each vehicle is fitted with two cameras inside the cab, one facing forward and a second one at the driver's position. Two more cameras are installed facing outside the vehicle in order to track what is happening around it. That data can provide a real-time view into what is happening. However, the sensors make it possible to add a level of intelligence.
"Were able to connect into other sensors on the truck," Crandell says, "and pull that information back to their command center." That could include detecting sounds around that vehicle, or sudden impacts, as well as monitor conditions related to the truck's operation, such as its engine temperature. The sensor data can identify if a driver is accelerating or braking suddenly, or if it is driving at a high speed, as well as if the truck experiences an impact.
This data can not only be viewed in real time, but also be stored and managed for the purpose of historical analytics. For instance, the system can identify if a security officer is not following an expected route through his or her rounds for a customer. It can also detect if the pattern is becoming too predictable (which could offer an opportunity for bad actors to learn that pattern and thereby elude security officers when committing a crime).
By saving video footage in and around every vehicle, the company thus has records that can be reviewed at a later date if an incident is reported. "Some of the key data points we are now able to collect," Brosnan reports, "are GPS location data, idling alerts triggered after X minutes and idling minutes per officer's shift." Additionally, the system provides the company with alerts that can be triggered if a driver leaves a property for which he or she is responsible, along with data indicating the amount of time that person remained off the premises.
Not only can Brosnan Risk Consultants use the collected data to improve its fleet oversight, but it can also share the information with its customers. "All of these data points are plugged into our internal and client-facing dashboards," Brosnan states, "to gain deeper insights into the duties our security officer is completing on shift and the overall security and safety of the client location."
Later this year, the MetTel solution will begin leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) technology to provide insight into what takes place in and around each vehicle, based on sensor data. For instance, the system could understand if a driver appeared to be falling asleep or was smoking a cigarette inside the vehicle—which is prohibited—based on camera data. The system could then trigger an alert to the driver via the app, as well as to management in the software or via text or e-mail, thereby correcting the behavior.
Moreover, the technology can remain with the security officer as he or she leaves the vehicle. Each officer wears a camera device provided by MetTel, which captures data as the individual competes a "walk about" in a specific area. When that worker returns to the vehicle, the system leverages a Wi-Fi connection between the personal camera device and the MetTel gateway unit to upload the camera data and forward it to the command center.
The system can include drones that sit on trucks, which can be flown over parking lots or other areas to capture video footage of what is taking place. Each drone has its own SIM card and 4G connectivity, as well as a Wi-Fi connection so it can transmit data to the vehicle unit (the data can also be forwarded via a cellular connection). Brosnan intends to add other sensors to the vehicles as well, he says, including gunshot sensors, counter UAV sensors and more. "We can mitigate risks before they become threats," he states, "act in real time when needed, and always keep the customer engaged as to what's going on."
MetTel provides the sensors and connectivity hardware, Crandell reports, including its own gateway unit and sensors from third-party providers. Each gateway unit sends a vehicle's unique identification, along with the sensor and camera data, so the company can monitor every vehicle and the driver associated with it. The units include a private Internet Protocol Network (IPN), with a Web application firewall to maintain data security.
Thus far, the SmartTruck technology has been deployed in several thousand vehicles. MetTel provides installation and maintenance for the solution, as well as the software and app. The technology used, and the alerting function, can be customized based on the specific location and the risks associated with a particular place.
While MetTel stores historical data for around 30 days, Brosnan Risk Consultants says it can store the information for longer periods. In that way, if there is a report about an accident months after the fact, the company can still review what happened based on the collected camera and sensor data. Ultimately, the technology allows the Brosnan Command Center to receive and act on notifications in real time, 24-7, "thus providing a superior security solution to clients," Brosnan says.